Neriza Sarmiento-Saito's
ON THE ROAD TO...

May-June 2009

MIGHTY ASPIRATIONS IN THE LAND OF "WA"

with DIEGO RUEL BUSTILLO

Golden Week in Japan glimmers like the rays of the golden sun. Koinobori or giant carp streamers can be seen everywhere as early as April as it waits for the celebration of Children's Day on May 5, capping the weeklong holiday. Doting grandparents and parents look forward to this day to pamper kids who are getting less in number due to Japan's declining birthrate.

One such father who is prepared to beat the odds of cross-cultural barriers for the sake of his two and a half year-old son is DIEGO RUEL BUSTILLO a native of Pangasinan. He lives in Yao City Osaka with his Japanese wife KUMI and son CHRISTIAN KEN. Like most young fathers raising a family in this period of economic downturn, Diego hopes that the recession will not come so early.

Two years ago, while working at the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, he was featured in a Yomiuri Shimbun article wherein they featured prominent foreign staff members of leading hotels in Kansai. The writer cited Diego's persevering spirit, diligence and his philosophy that "Language is not a barrier in communication." This is exemplified by his popularity among the hotel guests. "Kahit di pa ako masyadong fluent sa Japanese, kinakausap ko ang mga customers."

 

A year ago, Diego transferred to a new workplace The KANKU HINENO STATION HOTEL near Kansai International Airport.

After moving to his family's new residence in Yao City, a move welcomed by Kumi's parents who live nearby. This gave them more chances for family gatherings where husband and wife team-up in the kitchen to cook their special recipes.

The Bustillo family is a large brood of 8 children of schoolteacher Mercedes Caranza and Sofronio Bustillo, a government employee at the Bureau of Fisheries. Aware of his parents' struggle to give them proper education, Diego worked his way to college earning a Bachelor of Secondary Education degree specializing in Mathematics and English partly fulfilling his father's wish. But his real dream was to be in the hotel industry so he took a job as a banquet waiter at the Sulu Hotel. But 6 months later he was employed at the Philippine Labor and Employment Department as a Labor Employment Officer. A year later, he was promoted as an Information System Analyst II.

Opportunity knocked on his doorstep. After 8 years in government service, Diego finally got the chance to work at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Osaka as part of the administrative staff supporting overseas contract workers. There he met a beautiful and caring co-worker, Kumi Nohara, who was well versed in Filipino language and culture.

"I was assigned to look after Diego's needs like accommodations and provisions for daily life. I was particularly impressed with his diligence. He was always on time for any appointment or he would even be at the office 30 minutes earlier. Kumi's father is an architect while her mother comes from a family of artists. They were impressed with Diego's refined ways the first time Kumi introduced him to them. Just after the New Year bells rang, Kumi and Diego were ringing their wedding bells in 2006. After the closure of the POLO Office, Diego found his way back working in a hotel. Coming home after a grueling day's work, Diego looks forward to playing with his son KEN who was born in October 2006. At the advice of a trusted friend, Ken was baptized in January 2007 before traveling to Guam with the whole family to attend the wedding of Kumi's brother.

Diego has a lot of aspirations for Ken. When he sees him singing songs from Chip and Dale, Barneys and Thomas and Friends, he wants him to be a singer, or a famous swimmer or maybe an artist or an architect like his Japanese grandfather. Kumi adds, "Whatever he wants, we will support our son." She also has some advice to Japanese women marrying foreigners:  "We should not stick to narrow ideas about international marriages that culture can be a hindrance to a happy marriage. I did not marry Diego just because he is a foreigner. We are like common  Japanese couples starting a family. There are adjustments to make because we come from two different families. Nevertheless, we manage because Diego is such a loving husband and father."

Nowadays, Kumi spends most of her time with Ken when she is not working as a part-time interpreter while Diego works as a part-time  English teacher at the Assumption School in Minoo when he is not working at the hotel. And of course, he takes his Nihongo lessons seriousl, a move in the right direction as they want Ken to be bilingual and trilingual, too.

HAPPY CHILDREN'S DAY,  HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY,  HAPPY FATHERS' DAY!!!

Where are you from?

Alaminos, Pangasinan

What is you occupation/profession?

Hotel employee and part time English teacher

How long have you lived in Japan?

almost 6 years

What do you miss most about the Philippines?

"Gimikan" or outings without planning after work

What was your weirdest experience in Japan?

When I first arrived in Japan, it was so weird for me because I keep on converting all the costs to peso.

What do you like best about Japan?

Clean and tidy

If you can change one thing about the Filipinos, what would it be?

Work ethics especially punctuality

If you can teach things to the Filipinos about the Japanese,

what would it be?

The Japanese are good planners. They always plan ahead of time. They know their goals so they always create an agenda on how to achieve things.      

Please tell us about your recipe for a successful life in Japan.

I think my attitude to being so friendly with everyone helped me a lot to where I am right now. I have so many friends and I consider them my most treasured possessions. They will always be there to support me and give me courage in times of crisis.

 

March-April 2009

RAISING KIDS PINOY STYLE

With HEIDI ALBALATE TERADA

In celebration of International Women's Day, here is an excerpt to inspire us :
"IMAGINE A WOMAN WHO NAMES HER OWN GODS,
A WOMAN WHO IMAGINES THE DIVINE IN HER IMAGE AND LIKENESS, WHO DESIGNS HER OWN SPIRITUALITY AND ALLOWS IT TO INFORM HER DAILY LIFE." - Patricia Lyn Reilly

Our featured Pinay is Heidi Terada from Kyoto, a mother who is still striving to instill in her children many of our values and traditions in a setting less-conducive to raising kids Pinoy style. The first time I met Maria Erika (19) Michael Akira (16) and Lucas Hideki (10), I felt awkward when Heidi said "Magmano kayo" and they really did. All of them can understand Tagalog but only Hideki can speak like a native. Inspite of the fact that they go to regular Japanese schools and active in sports like basketball, they attend regularly
Sunday masses in Sanjo Kawaramachi Cathedral. Hideki, who dreams of becoming a priest in the future was named after Fr. Lucas, the Belgian priest there.

Heidi is the 14th child of Montana Cayetano and Toribio Albalate in a family with two sets of twins. Heidi was born in the year of the strong willed and ferocious tiger with a twin sister - Haida who got married in her teens did not settle down until she was 27. First, she made sure that her Japanese husband would convert to Catholicism. Second, that she would not be deprived of going to church and third that she could support her family in the Philippines financially.

Nasunod lahat ng hiling niya at noong 1989 pagkatapos ng kasal, namuhay na sila sa Kyoto. Sa pagpapadala ng pera sa Pilipinas, hindi siya umasa sa asawa. Nagtrabaho siya paunti-unti. Namana raw niya ang pagka-negosyante sa Nanay niya.

But at home, she is the doting mom, sometimes to the dismay of her friends. Naroong subuan pa niya ang mga anak at pulbusan ng Johnson's Baby Powder kahit mga teenager na o kaya naman e halikan at yakapin sa harap ng mga kaibigan ng mga anak. Heidi said that as a child she spent many times away from her busy mother. While at her grandmother's home in the nearby town, her mom came on business but never had the time to see her daughter. Young Heidi was so furious she complained bitterly. Di ito pinalampas ng Tatay niya. Matapos siyang bigyan ng ubod sa habang sermon, isang lumalagapak na palo ang natamo niya. "Iyon ang namana ko sa yumao kong ama. Pag may kasalanan sila, pakakainin ko muna, tapos ipapaliwanag ko kung bakit ko sila pinagagalitan at saka ko papaluin ng kamay ko," adds Heidi.
"Hindi ko rin sila basta binibigyan ng pera. Minsan, sabi ng panganay ko na bigyan ko raw siya ng 100 yen. Sabi ko e sa pagsuweldo, bibigyan ko siya. Maliit na halaga lang iyon at madaling ibigay pero gusto kong maisip rin nilang hindi madaling kumita ng pera," recalls Heidi. My daughter forgot that but when payday came and I gave her 100 yen as promised, her face beamed with surprise.

Kahit full-time mother si Heidi sa kanyang mga anak, she is actively involved as an officer of the Philippine Community Coordinating Council in Kansai as Assistant Secretary or as a go-between for troubled Filipino-Japanese couples who seek advice from the Catholic sisters in Kyoto or helping out at charity projects organized by the Catholic Missionaries. Eldest daughter, Erika, seems to follow her mother's footsteps. She is the peacemaker among her friends and the generous type who even offered her umbrella to an elderly person on a rainy day.

Heidi's beautiful face also has a special glow. "Dahil iyan sa Divine Providence. Talagang relihiyosa ako at hindi naman natin alam kung ano ang ibibigay ng Diyos sa atin kaya dapat e manalig sa Kanya." Coincidentally, Heidi has played the part of the Virgin Mary at a Christmas tableau while pregnant with Hideki. The next Christmas, they were together in the same tableau: Heidi, the Virgin Mary and Hideki, the Baby Jesus. Meanwhile, Heidi moves on against all odds to show that she can raise her children in her own Pinoy style. The full blown blossoms of her efforts are soon to be viewed like the sakura of spring.

Where are you from? Vinzons, Camarines Norte
What is your occupation/ profession? housewife
How long have you lived in Japan? 20 years now
What do you miss most about the Philippines? chatting, giggling, relaxing in the province while snacking on butong pakwan, peanuts, pili nuts and cornik
What was your weirdest experience in Japan? The first time I went to the ÒsentoÓ (public bath) with my mother in law, I was shocked not only because we had to take off all our clothes but she had to bathe me herself which we never do in the Philippines. She explained that by scrubbing each others back, you gain each other's trust.
What do you like best about Japan? People are very helpful.
If you can change one thing about the Filipinos, what would it be? Maybe change the bad attitudes like: be more considerate to family members working abroad, try to avoid giving more burdens to them especially in these tough economic times.
If you can teach things to the Filipinos about Japan, what would it be? I would teach university students to work part-time jobs to augment family income.
Please tell us about your recipe for a successful life in Japan. Care about everybody, not only our own families but other people as well and without expecting anything in return. And most of all, put your faith in God all throughout!

------------------------------------------

January-February 2009

VISIONS AND AMBITIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF FILIPINOS IN JAPAN

With PROF. MASANAO OUE

 

Para sa unang isyu ng Jeepney Press sa "Year of the Ox," isang Hapones na karapat-dapat na bigyan ng rekognisyon sa kanyang mga nagawa sa pagpapaunlad ng wikang Filipino sa bansang Hapon ang aking kinapanayam. Sa loob ng kanyang "kenkyushitsu" sa Osaka University, may mga plake ng karangalan mula sa iba't-ibang organisasyon sa Pilipinas, at mga aklat tungkol sa Gramatikang Filipino na isinulat niya. Mabilis na lumipas ang tatlong oras naming interbyuhan na pulos Filipino lamang ang salita. Ganyan katinik sa Filipino si OUE-SENSEI, propesor sa Filipino Language Studies ng Research Institute for World Languages ng unibersidad na ito. Sa paglabas ng isyung ito, siya ay nasa Pilipinas upang isagawa ang ilang pagsusulit sa kakayahan ng mga batang Filipino sa wika bilang unang bahagi ng kanyang Research and Development of Measure-ment Scales and Assess-ment Tools on Native Language Skills of Foreign Children (Native Speakers of Filipino Attending Schools in Japan), isang research grant mula sa Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Sa research na ito patutunayan niya na mahalaga ang unang lengguwahe sa pagbuo ng sariling kaisipan at pag-unlad sa iba't-ibang asignatura ng isang bata. Ang target group ay mga batang Filipinong ipinanganak sa Pilipinas na nag-migrate sa Japan at kasalukuyang nag-aaral sa mga paaralan dito. Ang pagsusuring ito na nagsimula noong Abril 2008 at aabutin hanggang Marso 2011 ay naglalayong ipakita ang kahalagahan ng unang wika sa mga batang nakatira sa ibang bansa. Kailangan din ng kooperasyon ng mga magulang at ng mga Filipino Communities dito sa Japan upang magtagumpay ang proyektong ito. Bakit ganyan kalaki ng pagpapahalaga ni Prop. Oue sa ating wika? Kung minsan pa nga mas maalab ang kanyang pagpupunyagi na palaganapin ang wikang Filipino kaysa sa ating mga Filipino rito sa Japan. Ano kaya ang nag-udyok sa kanya para magpakadalubhasa sa ating wika?


Isinilang siya sa makasaysayang siyudad ng Hiroshima at sa murang isipan ay nakintal na sa isip ang hindi pang-aabala sa ibang tao na siyang unang-unang itinuro ng kanyang mga magulang. Isang diyaryong dala-dala ng kanyang kaibigan mula sa Pilipinas ang naging simula ng pagpapaka-dalubhasa niya sa ating wika. Galing sa Lubang Island ang isa niyang kaibigan sa kolehiyo na sumama sa isang expedition para kunin ang mga labi ng mga namatay na sundalong Hapones sa World War 2, isang proyekto ng Health and Welfare Ministry. Sa front page ng Pilipino Express nalagay ang larawan ng grupo nila. Nang siya'y mag-apply sa Foreign Affairs Ministry noong 1976, inilagay niyang priority language ay Filipino. Naging guro niya sa Foreign Service Institute si Bendette McFarland at dalawa pang Mombusho students. Noong 1977 siya'y ipinadala sa Maynila upang magsimula ng intensive course sa Filipino sa University of the Philippines. Sa una ay non-degree course lang ang kinuha niya pero nang mapansin ng marami ang kanyang di-pangkaraniwang abilidad, accelerated siya sa M.A. program sa rekomendasyon ng kanyang gurong si Dr. Nelly Cubar na nagsabing "Daig pa ni Mr. Oue ang Tagalog native speaker." Lalu pang nahasa ang kanyang kakayahan sa wikang ito nang maging tutor niya ang bantog na si Dr. Fely Castillo ng Institute of National Language na sa kasalukuyan ay Presidente ng Cambridge College sa Pilipinas na nananatili pa ring tunay niyang kaibigan. "Sa una ay nahirapan ako sa pag-aaral dahil nagtatrabaho rin ako sa Japanese Embassy sa Manila bilang Political Officer. Nang makidnap si Mizuno-san ako rin ang nakipag-ugnayan sa tulong nina Gov. Lacson at Archbishop Fortich. Mayroon ding mga nakakatuwang bagay akong naranasan gaya ng paglabas sa mga T.V. programs doon sa anyaya ni Eddie Ilarde. Noong 1982, lumabas ako sa programa nina Elvira Manahan at Nestor Torre, ang "Two for the Road." Apat kaming dayuhan na ininterbyu --- isang Belgian priest, ang asawa ng Chinese Embassy staff na taga-Radyo Peking, isang American actor at ako. Lahat kami ay fluent sa Filipino at ang tanong sa amin ay kung kailan naming ginagamit ang wikang ito sa pang-araw-araw na buhay. Pare-pareho kami ng sagot--sa palengke, dahil nakakabili kami ng mura!"
Ang kanyang pagpupunyagi sa wikang Filipino ay mas nabigyan ng kahulugan nang siya'y magsimulang magturo ng Gramatikang Filipino sa dating Osaka University of Foreign Studies noong 1991 na nag-merge sa Osaka University noong 2007. Sa kanyang kakayahan bilang propesor napapaglecture na siya sa maraming unibersidad sa ibang bansa gaya ng University of Hawaii at University of London. Sa hinaharap inaasahan ni Oue Sensei na maging matagumpay ang kanyang ginagawang pagsusulit sa mga batang Filipino rito sa Japan para na rin sa kanilang kapakanan sa hinaharap. "Sana naman ay magkaroon ng 'government to government agreement' para sa mga isyung sosyal para sa mga batang migrante. Pangalawa, dapat ay magkaroon na ng mga full-time coordinators ng multicultural children sa mga local governments at panahon na rin sigurong magkaroon ng isang special curriculum sa university na magsasanay sa mga gurong magtuturo sa mga dayuhang estudyante."


Ganyan kasigasig si Prop. Oue na maisakatuparan ang kanyang layunin para sa mga batang Filipino sa Japan para sa mga naging kaibigan niyang visiting professors sa Osaka Gaidai mula pa kina Dr. Rose Yu, Dr. Lilia F. Antonio, Dr. Nic Tiongson, Dr. Oscar Evangelista, Dr. Joy Barrios, Dr. Roland Tolentino at Dr. Pia Arboleda, mas higit pa sa isang Pinoy ang pagpapahalaga niya sa wikang Filipino.

Where are you from?

Hiroshima City
What is your occupation/profession?

Professor at Osaka University, School of Foreign Studies, Department of Philippine Studies
How long did you stay in the Philippines?

A total of 8 and 1/2 years from 1977-1983 and later from 1988-1991
What do you miss most about the Philippines?

The long drives that I used to do in the Philippines. I have been to Legaspi City. It took me 8-9 hours to drive up to Laoag, and then to Aparri, about 12 hours. It was very relaxing because I could take a rest at different carinderias along the way plus the fact that there were beautiful beaches to go to like Puerto Azul, Matabungkay, Puerta Baluarte, Albatross and Hundred Islands.
What was your weirdest experience in the Philippines?

When I was asked by Eddie Ilarde to appear in his program, Student Canteen with his co-hosts Bobby Ledesma, Coney Reyes and Helen Vela. He asked about my favorite song, "Dahil Sa 'Yo" of which he made me sing on the spot. The next day, many of my colleagues said that they saw me on TV. Since then, I realized how influential television is for Filipinos.
What do you like best about the Filipinos? The Filipinos are naturally open about their private lives. Even at initial meetings, they can tell you their life stories.
If you can change one thing about the Philippines, what would it be?

If the country is to be economically competent, the people have to be efficient. The "ningas kogun" mentality is another thing that hampers the economy. Another thing that needs to be changed is the "crab mentality" which pulls down the people who excel. In Japanese, we say "Deru kuiwa utareru." It means: A nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
If you can teach things about Japan to the Filipinos, what would it be?

Japan has maintained its population growth under control so I hope Filipinos can do the same thing. Somehow, the roots of the present-day problems in the Philippine society is the over-population of children.
What can you teach about the Philippines to the Japanese?
Close family ties, specially in the way they look after the elderly. For example, there is always someone around them. Human touch is always there.
And please tell us about your recipe for a successful life with the Filipinos..

Whenever I am with the Filipinos, I strive for open communication. "Pakikisama" (cooperation) is always vital for Filipinos. And maybe, I would not have been able to do this with the support of my wife Kanako and our pet cat whose name is PINA, a name I specifically coined as a tribute to all the Filipinos I know.

 

November-December 2008

FILIPINO COWBOY IN KANSAI

With   O L S O N    S O L O N

One of the greatest musical revolutions in Kansai was started by OLSON SOLON, also known as the Filipino cowboy in Kansai. But our hero is not the typical American cowboy like Clint Eastwood who pursues criminals alone. He doesn't even have a horse and he carries no gun. His original composition "A FILIPINO COWBOY IN JAPAN" that he sang live in DJ Marty's live program on FM 802 last Oct. 21 tells of Olson's zany existence in Osaka.
The famous Solon family from Cebu are music lovers. In search of a name for the youngest son born in a family of 5 boys and three girls. His father, who was fond of Jai Alai, scrambled all the 5 letters in their surname and the name OLSON came about. Somehow as Olson would soon discover that numerology, it would design the next course of his life.
Bubbly Olson studied business management at the University of Visayas where he was granted a scholarship because of his singing talent. In 1978 he joined STUDENT CANTEEN's singing contest where he became the Daily Winner with the song "SHE." Realizing a brighter future in music, he stayed behind in Manila doing odd jobs in the morning and then singing in the evening. The big chance to work in Japan came in 1986 as a lead singer in a band. Three years later he settled permanently--Olson's versatility and dynamism were proven when he became the lead singer of the Tardy Boys with pioneer Pinoy musicians, Jun Silva and Edwin Bunales. In 1992, they were featured in an NHK program which was followed by appearances at Filipino community events, Independence Day programs, charity concerts and events at the Osaka Castle Park, Asian Trade center and at the Kansai International Airport. Olson's rise to fame included a singing stint at Hilton Osaka's Windows on the World.
On October 31 this year, he performed with Nyoy Volante in Osaka. On November 22 and 26, he will perform with Jun Silva at Nara Kenko Land. What could be Olson's secret for this youthful energy. Siyempre pa, the loves of his life -- sweet and lovely wife JESUSA, a Julia Roberts look-alike and their 2-year old son OLSON JES. Olson says. "MASUWERTI KAMI SA BATANG ITO. KAPAPANGANAK PA LANG NIYA, NANALO AKO SA LOTTO." After Sunday masses, the Filipino cowboy is surrounded by his extended family in Japan --- Henry, Mandy, Jo-Anne, etc for potluck parties and enjoying Jesusa's homemade dishes like pinakbet and adobo which is OJ's favorite. He is pampered, adored and loved by his Titos and Titas. His Mom keeps a neat album of OJ from his birth to the present.
"Sana ay maipasok naming si OJ sa isang International School para naman maging well-rounded and trilingual siya," beams Jesusa looking fondly at OJ as he imitates his favorite BARNEY. "I want my son to grow up with proper education unlike me na dahil sa hirap sa buhay noong araw, nagtrabaho na agad teenager pa lang." A self made business-woman, Jesusa recalled working as a caddie for Evangeline Pascual until she was recruited by a Japanese to work here. "After all those years, tatlong bagay lang ang nakatulong sa akin para mag-survive sa Japan: TIYAGA, SIPAG AT DISKARTE," adds JESUSA.
Now that Christmas is here again, JESUSA and OJ have plans to spend the holidays in the Philippines among relatives. "Iba ang Pasko sa atin, makulay, masaya, damang-dama ang pagmamahal. Sana ay laging Pasko na lang, " sighs the Filipino cowboy as he leaves for another singing engagement with a guitar on his back, he rides on his bicycle along the neoned lights of Minami.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL!

Where are you from?
Cebu City.
What is your occupation/ profession?
Singer of folk and country music.
How long have you lived in Japan?
About 20 years.
What do you miss most in the Philippines?
My family and my Barkada back in Cebu. I make it a point to see them whenever I go home.
What is your weirdest experience in Japan?
When I saw people walking leisurely along the streets of Minami while a long line of cars and taxis kept blowing their horns on them.
What do you like best about Japan?
This is the safest country in the world. Everything is convenient. Jesusa says that the food is safe and always looking fresh and delicious.
If you can change one thing about Japan, what would it be?
Jesusa says that she hopes the government can ease visa regulations for Filipinos
especially for Filipina mothers who have lived here for so long.
Olson says he hopes that many will move to the countryside to ease congestions in the city.
If you can teach one thing to the Filipinos about Japan, what would it be?
Get more acquainted with the work ethic of the Japanese. Good planning and systematic operations are essential in running a business.
How about your recipe for a successful life in Japan.
Honesty in dealing with people. Self-respect is also important because people will not respect you if you do not respect yourself. And the most important is that I always think that everyday is Christmas so that I can spread love to anyone especially to my family.

 

September-October 2008

BONDINGS AT SUMMERTIME

One Sunday afternoon I missed my scheduled recording of our conversation lesson in Filipino with Cindy and Masako in FM Cocolo's TINIG PINOY so we decided to have a live report from Izumisano City near Kansai International Airport. The "target word" was TABI "beside" in Filipino as compared to the same word TA-BI (Journey, Trip) in Japanese. "Nasa tabing-dagat po ako ngayon at mula rito napakaganda ng kulay orange na papalubog na araw. Hay, Cindy siguradong maaalala mo yung sunset sa Manila Bay pag nasa tabi ka ng boyfriend mo." Cindy chuckled and then continued at the other end of the line. "Absent ang estudyante nating si Masako dahil may sakit. Katabi niya ang pusa sa bahay ngayon."

I chose the Japanese word "tabi" for the month of August specifically for its significance to both Filipinos and Japanese, the young and the old, the living and the departed. The "O-bon" season is believed to be the period when the souls can journey back to earth and therefore their relatives have to welcome them with food offerings and incense. Summer vacation for about a month enable children to spend time with their
grandparents in their hometowns or go on family trips abroad.

Amid speculation of a decrease in air travelers triggered by the skyrocketing cost of fuel, business bustles for PAL Osaka as Mr. Kanuka and Mr. Ito checked-in as a Manila-bound passenger. The Miyagawas of Act Tourist and their staff were giving away breakfast tickets and assisting a group from Shiga who will attend a wedding in Cavite. AIT's Marie was worried about a passenger who was late for check-in. Air World Travel's Ninomiya san made perfect arrangements for me to travel in style.

Fragrant sampaguita leis from the DOT staff in Manila Lorly's usual delightful surprise, a warm welcome from Noemi who made sure we painted the town red as soon as we left the Centennial Terminal, a quick drive through "THE FORT" one of the trendiest commercial district in Bonifacio Global City, a stroll in Greenhills where we saw Ai-ai de las Alas and other celebrities and a glimpse of Pilita Corrales in-front of her Cafe-restaurant "PILITA." After a sumptuous dinner at a Greek restaurant, we drove to a Comedy Theater PUNCHLINE. We sat at the farthest table "Para daw hindi ma-OKRAY" (target of jokes) ng mga comedians like Eric and Inday Garutay. The place was filled with roars of laughter from locals and balikbayans. Pakiramdam ko natangay ng hurricane buong theater and the next day, I was like Dorothy landing in the Land of OZ - the country down-under.


My mother's 8oth birthday gave me the chance to meet many Filipinos in Melbourne, the Asian gourmet capital in Australia because of the concentration of immigrants from China, Vietnam, Thailand, India and the Philippines.

VICKY has lived in Australia for 29 years with her Portuguese husband. She was a former schoolteacher in Ormoc who is the Ate of all the Filipino staff members of Qantas Catering Service at Melbourne Airport, Alice, Diana, Jo-Anne, Julie-Ann, Greg and Larry, NELSON, from OLONGAPO works for CANON and with his wife Loida. They raise 2 teen-age children TESS and MAR who works at the Australian Medicare Center. Recently some professionals in the medical field have integrated themselves into the Australian System/ DR. EILEEN ANICETO from Iligan City has taken a series of tests. To qualify for employment, DR. WARREN too, a pediatrician is taking advanced courses in a local university. ALMA recently acquired a PHd in Accounting and is now with the Melbourne City Mission. The MARTINOS live in the posh suburb of Highton. Renato is of Italian descent and his wife CALOY who used to work with a travel company in Manila has an only son Chris who is studying to be a High School teacher. Bobby and Cherry Ramos from Laguna migrated to Australia 17 years ago with their 3 year-old son EARL who has been consistently bilingual. He took a proficiency test in Filipino and passed both written and oral tests and amazed the evaluators after he sang "USO PA BA ANG HARANA." Although still a sophomore in a course in Paramedics, he has been assisting in actual ambulance work where he encounters many elderly Filipinos happy to have a Filipino-speaking Australian national. His sister Kerri, who was born after they received Australian citizenship, is still struggling with Tagalog.

GUS and OWIE from BULACAN worked with two leading commercial banks before migrating with their two children. Two years later, they were given Australian citizenships and acquired a modest house in Victoria and the comfort of life with their extended families.

It was indeed a relaxing summer spent among family, friends and would be friends. On the way back to Japan, I managed to have a bonding with my elderly aunts in the province and a dinner in Trinoma with my brother and sisters in law and my nephews and nieces. TABI-TABI, KATABI, NASA TABI - that's what makes us Filipinos survive anywhere in the world. Basta "BONDING," number 1 talaga ang Pinoy.

 

July-August 2008

Mila and Rottery

On a rainy Mothers' Day last May 11, we drove to Hiroshima to attend an event organized by a group called "Hiroshima Assistance to Filipino Communities" (HAFC), composed of Filipino wives of Japanese, trainees and students. Watching the lush greenery of its mountains and a glorious view of the once-devastated city, it reminded me of a visit to Hiroshima in 2003. I recorded the Filipino version of the voice-guide to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The day before the recording, Prof. Masanao Oue of the Osaka University's Research Institute for World Languages, Filipino Studies Program, coordinator of that project, Dr. Rolando Tolentino of the University of the Philippines and I were given a familiarization tour of the museum. A mixture of shock and sadness came over us after seeing more than 6,000 items on display--silent reminders of the August 6 atomic bombing of Hiroshima: burned pieces of clothes, shoes, sandals, bags, twisted bicycles, and even fragments of human skin and fingernails exposed to radiation. One of the most touching stories ever told of that fateful day was about a young girl who cradled a dying little boy in her arms inspite of her injuries, while he cried for his lost mother. The girl sang a lullaby until his sobs and her voice were gone forevermore.


We were welcomed warmly by the members of HAFC especially by the ever accommodating Mila Goto fondly dubbed as the Mother of Pinoys in Fukuyama. Roterry De luna Shimono hugged us eagerly. Resplendent and vibrant, she has tirelessly led this new group to come up with this event to bring Filipinos and Japanese in Fukuyama together to avail themselves of the services of the Philippine Consulate General Osaka--Kobe's Consular Outreach mission and the Department of Tourism Osaka's Travel Presentation and to encourage networking among the Pinoys in Hiroshima. For many of her close friends like me, Roterry is the indefatigable spirit behind many of the noteworthy events of the Filipino communities in Kansai. And very few knew, too, that behind the scene, she was like the injured girl who cradled the little boy for she had a colorful life in Japan. She, too, has her shares of great pain.


Her first marriage was not as rosy as she expected. Her three children were the only motivation she had to keep on going. There was a time that she had to run away and took odd jobs like working in a gasoline station. There were times she was so embarrassed when friends saw her looking drab and unkept. That was when Roterry realized the sufferings of other Filipina wives like her in the area so she organized a group called Ninjin Kai, meaning people's gathering in Kanji. As the first Filipina in Mihara-cho, she displayed a dynamic leadership that gained her the respect of the international community and the government officials from 1985-1987. While raising two of her children, Meri and Shinji, who were born in Hiroshima, she became friendly with Mila Goto who came to Japan in 1973. As the pioneer Pinay in Hiroshima, the hospitable and bubbly Mila soon became her nanay, ate and a close friend. In the early 90's her family moved to Osaka. Without Mila nearby, Roterry was lonely so she contacted the Kansai Nippi Tomo No Kai and Amy Wafuura of the Kadoma Philippines Friendship Association. From there, she was unstoppable even after the birth of her third son Ken.


The first thing she did while in Osaka was to enroll in a night school to brush up her Japanese skills that she started in Hiroshima because she could not understand the letters from her children's school. She passed the entrance exam at a regular Senior High School, too. She re-established Ninjin Kai in Kashiwara City and fostered a closer tie with the Kashiwara International Association and the Kashiwara Jaycees where she interpreted during meetings with the Makati Jaycees. Aside from interpreting for the Osaka Prefectural police, she was often hired at NHK Osaka as translator of special programs from the Philippines like Eat Bulaga. In 1998, as one of the key officers of the PCCC, she was instrumental in organizing the Centennial Celebration of Philippine Independence in Osaka. 1999 was her year to shine. Roterry and her daughter passed an audition to be in the cast of Shinya Eiho's musical "Mayonaka no Ryuseigun." That same year she starred opposite Henry Tabao in Joey Manalang's original musical "The Gaijin" performed in different parts of Osaka until 2002. Roterry's role was that of a battered wife. Coincidentally, her role onstage seemed to extend to her real life. She parted ways for good with her husband, then left for the Philippines and opened her own school in her hometown. Somehow she made a U-turn to Japan two years later after meeting a kind man from Hiroshima who runs a freight service company. They got married in 2007. The new Mrs. Shimono says, "Akala ko puro na lang hirap ang buhay ko. My life changed completely, He is so kind and he understands our Filipino way of life. Gustung-gusto nya ng adobo, pinakbet at bagoong. We plan to live in the Philippines after our retirement."


Meanwhile, Roterry, together with Mila and the members of HAFC, will continue to sing lullabyes to comfort every Filipino in need in Hiroshima.

Where are you from?
TOBOSO, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL
What's your occupation?
ENGLISH TEACHER AND INTERPRETER
How long have you been in Japan?
23 YEARS
What do you miss most about the Philippines?
RELAXING MOMENTS AT HOME AND THE SCENIC VIEW FROM MY TERRACE
What do you like best about Japan?
CLEANLINESS,CONVENIENCE and HELPFUL PEOPLE.
If you can change one thing about Japan, what would it be?
A LITTLE LENIENCY IN MIGRATION PROCEDURES SO THAT OUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBERS CAN JOIN US HERE.
If you can teach things you have learned from the Japanese what would it be?
GREATER VISION AND PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE ESPECIALLY IN HANDLING FINANCES AT HOME. JAPANESE HOUSEWIVES ARE VERY GOOD IN CONTROLLING THEIR BUDGET THAT IS WHY THEY CAN AFFORD TO BUY PROPERTIES.
Please tell us about your recipe for a successful life in Japan.
ALL OF US WILL ENCOUNTER UPS AND DOWNS IN LIFE. IT COULD BE IN THE BEGINNING OR IT COULD BE LATER. IT COULD BE OUR DESTINY BUT WE ALL HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHANGE OUR COURSE BY MAKING GOALS IN LIFE. SUCCESS IS DETERMINED BY THE WAY YOU DISCIPLINE YOURSELF. SO SAIL ON AND FACE THOSE CHALLENGES BRAVELY. ALWAYS BE HONEST AND BE THANKFUL TO GOD FOR ALL HIS BLESSINGS.

 

-------------------------------

May-June 2009


A JOY FOR ALL SEASONS with  Joy Talia-Miyagawa

Buwan ng Mayo... panahon ng pista at Santacruzan sa Pilipinas. Golden Week naman rito sa Japan. Imagine, April 28 pa lang e may mga nag-uumpisa ng umuwi sa probinsya. Lalo na sa "peak season" Ð May 3-6 siguradong fully booked ang mga bullet trains, long distance buses at mga eroplano. And speaking of air travel, siguradong nakapila na ang maraming Pinoy sa mga check Ð in counters sa mga airports dito sa Japan.


Many of those traveling through Kansai International Airport might fail to notice the petite and gracious lady assisting passengers at the ACT TOURIST counter. Simple lang ang beauty nya. Laging may shy smile at very polite kahit kanino. But the lady is no ordinary Pinay as she is the co-owner of one of the best known travel agencies in Kansai where her husband, KIYOSHI is President. Akala siguro ng iba, dahil owner na, pwede nang pa-easy-easy lang.
But not for Joy. She has managed to shift roles as a career-woman, wife and mother.


Alas-singko pa lang ng umaga, gising na ang Miyagawa family. Her 19 year old daughter Kaori assists them during school breaks from her university in Hirakata. In addition to 7 other Japanese staff that includes Mr. Miyagawa's older sons, Yoshiki and Takeshi, two other Filipinos, Ana Liza Son and Jun Mendiola provide valuable assistance to the company. Alas-7 nasa counter na si Joy kasama ang kanyang staff to assist departing passengers. Almost 1/4 of the passengers on that day for flights to the Philippines are serviced by Act Tourist. What makes them a hit with customers? "Lagi po kasing nasisiyahan ang nga pasahero namin kasi parang kapamilya ang pag-aasikaso namin sa kanila. Kung minsan nga po kahit over na ang bagahe nila, nagagawan pa namin ng paraan. Pag may hindi nasakay na pasahero, kami rin po ang naghahanap ng accommodations." Before the end of the day, staff meetings are held to assess the dayÕs work and Joy goes back home to fulfill her housewifely chores. On some days her husband Kiyoshi cooks for the family.


Joy is one of the 3 daughters of the late Jose Talia, a soldier from Camiling Tarlac and Victoria from Plaridel, Bulacan. The family lived in Nueva Vizcaya where her father was stationed. Nakintal sa murang isip ni Joy ang likas na kasipagan ng mga Ilocano. Nagsikap siyang makatapos ng pag-aaral nang maagang namatay ang kanyang ama. Noong 1987, ikinasal sila ni Mr. Miyagawa at tumira sa Ehime-ken where daughter Kaori was born. Dahil sa ilang mapagsamantala, bumagsak ang kanilang negosyo. That was when they decided to move to Kansai and started from scratch. That was when a friend suggested starting a travel agency. To promote the name of their company, ACT TOURIST sponsored major events of the Filipino communities in Kansai giving away round trip tickets to the Philippines. The family-run business is still going strong. Ana Liza comments that Mr. and Mrs. Miyagawa manages the business well. "Magaling magpalakad sa opisina si Ma'am Joy. Minsan nga may mga tumatawag na Pilipina hindi lang para mag-order ng tiket kundi para humingi ng payo sa buhay." This is where Joy, Liza and Jun give their advices to them. "Aba eh pwede na rin pala tayong counseling clinic," chuckles Jun. Like a big and happy family sending off a loved one, ACT TOURIST has started providing free breakfast at KIX for their customers.


When I told Joy that she probably goes home to the Philippines more often than anyone, she just laughed and said: "Tuwing undas lang ako umuuwi para naman makadalaw sa libingan ng mga kamag-anak ko." Those visits also afford Joy a chance to relax from her busy travel seasons in Japan and enjoy her favorite Ilocano dish... PINAKBET.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM ?
Plaridel, Bulacan and Camiling,Tarlac
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION/ PROFESSION?
Vice-President of a travel company
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN JAPAN?
19 years
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?
Gardening because I love flowers especially roses.
WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING THAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED IN JAPAN?
In the beginning, I thought that the endless bowing among neighbors was odd.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT JAPAN?
When people set appointments, they really come on time.
IF YOU CAN CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I wish the Japanese government can give better visa status to Filipino spouses of Japanese here who are long-time residents. I think a lot of them have contributed a great deal to Japanese society.
IF YOU CAN TEACH THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE JAPANESE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Perseverance. No matter what and no matter how, work towards a goal.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE IN JAPAN.
Just be true to oneself and respect the Japanese work ethics. Since we are used to a more informal way of handling business in the Philippines, there are a lot of adjustments to do when doing business in Japan. Customers are always first and they expect to be accorded the best service, too. I always make sure that I give consideration to our customers. And most of all, inter-personal relationships are also vital.

---------------------------------------

A VALIANT KNIGHT IN KANSAI
with  SIR  GELACIO  "JUN"  SILVA

l-r: julius (eldest son), nida, (wife), and  jun

       Kansai’s long-time resident, Sir Jun, is the  commander of the Knights of Rizal, Kansai Chapter. For several years now, Jun has remained at the helm of this prestigious society wherein the major goal of which is to “emulate and propagate the ideals of the great Malayan --- Dr. Jose Rizal.” Jun is the first commander from the private sector to lead this society. The previous ones were officials of the Philippine Consulate in Kobe. Under Jun’s leadership the Knights of Rizal spearheaded several projects that benefited charitable institutions in the Philippines. Jun was also a former president of the church-based Sama-sama Community. Now, in his late fifties Jun is even more active because he was again tapped to head the new Knights of Rizal and was elected as Vice-Chairperson of the Philippine Community Coordinating Council (PCCC) the umbrella organization of all Filipino communities in Kansai. Let us find out more about
this knight in shining armour.

     He is the 2nd to the youngest of six children --- Ricardo, Rizalina, Carlos, Almario, Gelacio and Cherry Lynn. The Silva family lived comfortably in Galas Quezon City. His father worked at the City Hall but he passed away when Jun was only 3. His mother, Priscilla took care of the family single-handedly. She would always tell them to “love one another." Jun made sure that his mother’s efforts will not be in vain. He graduated valedictorian in elementary and graduated with honors at the UST High School. “I think that education at a Catholic school is a big factor in the formation of character," says Jun. “Naging palasimba ako kaya kahit ngayon, I never miss a Sunday mass kahit pagod ako sa trabaho.” He works as a company employee for 23 years now in a Japanese firm where he has gained the respect and trust of his employers and co-workers. “Sayaw lang sa tugtog ng mga hapon. Basta marunong ka lang makisama. If they see how hard you work, they will treat you as their equal. Show your loyalty to the company.”

    Jun’s two previous marriages with Japanese produced 3 sons --- Julius who is in Architectural Computer Science, is now in America. The other two are Jason and Jeffrey. As a doting father, he imparts in them wisdom of a self-made man as he is. “Dahil sa malayo tayo sa pamilya natin, kailangang kahit hindi physically present, tuloy pa rin ang bonding." Before the 2007 ended, Jun’s mother passed away in the USA at 89 due to kidney failure. "It was the saddest moment in my entire life because I lost someone so dear and precious. Hindi ko na siya inabutan inspite of the fact that I took the first flight available to be at her side." Perhaps, these are some of the realities we have to deal with as migrants when someone in the family passes away.

     Meanwhile, the new Knights of Rizal is on the go again with a plan to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Jose Rizal on June 19. Active members also include Mr. Kiyoshi Miyagawa, the first Japanese Exchequier (treasurer) who owns ACT Tourist, servicing Pinoys in Kansai. Consul Senen Mangalile and other officers of the consulate are also the grand knights of this group. Coincidentally, like Rizal, Jun was born in June and if Rizal had a Josephine Bracken, he is also proud of his lovely and dedicated NIDA, who has been his source of joy and inspiration through the years.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
My father is from Sto. Tomas, Batangas and my mother is from Calumpit, Bulacan.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN OSAKA?
For 28 years now.
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION?
Company Employee.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST IN THE PHIL.?
My relatives especially my eldest sister, Rizalina. I always long for Christmas in the Philippines because it is the best season to feel the warmth of family.
WHAT IS YOUR WEIRDEST EXPERIENCE IN JAPAN?
When my mom passed away because it was the only time I felt so lonely in Japan.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT JAPAN?
Peaceful, safe and it has the most ideal and systematic health care system.
IF YOU CAN CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I wish there will be more equipment and machines with bilingual instructions. Many foreign workers operate such machines in workplaces most Japanese dread --- the 3 K’s or maybe 3D’s … DIRTY, DANGEROUS AND DEPLORABLE.
IF YOU COULD TEACH THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE JAPANESE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Japanese workers are so honest about the effort and time they put into anything. They always live up to certain expectations. Sana ganoon din tayo.
YOUR RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE HERE?
First, faith in the Lord. Second, stay focused on what you do now.

---------------------------------------------------------
January-February 2008
THE  JAPAN FOUNDATION’S  JAPANESE
LANGUAGE INSTITUTE, KANSAI
With Fiona, Wowie & Jamir

(L-R: Neriza, Fiona, Wowie, Jamir and Martin)

     Year 2007, the year of the ferocious boar, characterized by the abrupt changes in Japan’s political arena, scandals grabbing headlines here and there, has ended quickly. The year of the mouse has just begun… charming and quick, adorable, yet so vulnerable.

    The year-end parties with work colleagues, friends and family over a steaming pot of blowfish wiped out the fatigue. It seemed that everyone appeared in a hurry… shopping, partying, cleaning so I found solace in the company of  kababayans during the “simbang-gabi” officiated by Fr. Mario Colina, the first ever to be celebrated in Kansai. Members of the Kitano Filipino Christian Community and the Suita Catholic Community took turns singing at the masses with guitar accompaniment  of Consul Senen. After mass, a  "salu-salo" followed to which Fr. Mario commented:  "This is exactly what I had hoped for in my long years of service here -- a true Catholic tradition at Christmas," while helping himself to a  hot bowl of "arroz caldo." Some of the attendees were Filipino scholars studying at universities in Kansai. I can imagine the loneliness of spending Christmas and New Year away from the Philippines so I  was also relieved that there is a place they can feel the real yuletide spirit, inspite of myself. 

    Recently, the number of foreign students in Japan on international scholarships has totaled to about 1,700 with a plan to increase to 1,800 in the next academic year.

    And to start the New Year, I would like to feature 3 outstanding students at the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Institute, Kansai - - 2 Filipinos and an Austrian national. Beginning this year, I plan to feature non-Filipinos in this column who have been outstanding in their respective fields related to Japan-Philippine relations.

    LORI ANN TOLENTINO HAO (Wowie) is an independent filmmaker in GMA Channel 7 in the Philippines who graduated from the University of the Philippines. She received a 4-month research grant focusing on the status of Filipino caregivers in Japan.

     JAMIR OCAMPO whose scholarship grant is for 3 years is a photo-journalist doing research on migrant Filipinos in Western Japan and he will go to Kyoto University after his Japanese language studies at the Center.

      FIONA KATHARINA SEIGER, is an Austrian national who is pursuing her Master’s degree has interviewed many Filipinas married to Japanese. She was accepted by an NGO group in the Philippines helping women and children beginning April next year.

    What makes these young people extraordinary? All of them are in their 20’s with full of life, vision and vigor. Unlike, many young Japanese influenced by Japan’s values on commercialism, these students see beyond the lenses of the human eye. Like the other scholars, I had the pleasure of meeting them at their spacious cafeteria. Joining us is Martin from Denmark, who is doing a research on Japanese Language Education, provided the photo for this interview. They were not so awed by the latest attraction in Rinku Pleasure Town  SEACLE, a gigantic shopping mall cum amusement area with a magnificent Ferris Wheel glittering right in front of the Japan Foundation Building.

       The Japan Foundation was established in 1972 to foster better international understanding through cultural exchanges. In October 2003 it became an independent Administrative institution with 3 main programs:  Arts and Culture, Japanese Language and Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange through the Tokyo Headquarters and branches in Kyoto, Urawa and Kansai (Rinku Town). The Centers are comfortably equipped with dormitory rooms, laundry rooms, courtyards, a Japanese style house, classrooms, library, computer rooms, audio-visual studio, auditorium and a recreation room with a karaoke, their favorite hang-out especially for Fiona whose other dream is to be scouted in Philippine showbiz after meeting Japanese T.V. personality YA-CHAN, a regular performer at ABS-CBN.

     Fiona speaks several languages – French, German, English, Japanese and a little Filipino. She has lived in many countries growing up. She has been toJapan on several occasions after her graduation from the university. Her research concerns the status of women especially wives of Japanese. Aside from the interviews,  Fiona immersed herself deeper into the Filipino community attending masses at the Kyoto Pag-asa Community or volunteering at events. At the Midosuji Parade in October, Fiona wore a Maria Clara and walked alongside the Japanese and Filipinos. "I noticed that many people were wondering if I was a Filipina too, judging from their bewildered faces as I waved and said Mabuhay, I love the Philippines.  And I feel a strong bond with Filipinos that is why I decided to go back to Austria for a while after my research presentation then go to the Philippines in April for the next phase of my study."

      Jamir stayed in Japan for Christmas and New Year among friends in Tokyo and in Kyoto. Inspite of being so used to the cold in his native Baguio City, where he was also a student at U.P., Jamir dreads the bitter cold winter here. "It’s good I have my muffler made in Baguio. It keeps me warm." he adds.  Jamir has some of his photos exhibited at the Center. He is particularly interested in the changing of seasons in Japan, most notably autumn. "The colors are enchanting --- hues of red, yellow and orange." When he watched the Midosuji parade, he was visibly impressed with the lavishly decorated floats and the the Japanese swordmen.

     WOWIE represents a new genre of Filipino women – determined but with a heart so warm and gentle. She epitomizes the empowered woman who can express her views through a powerful medium—the television. Compared to Japan with very few women directors, the Philippines has produced notable film directors like Marilou Diaz Abaya, who is vey much respected in the Japanese Film Circle. Wowie worked at an early age to help augment the family income. She was hired in a television company where she did documentaries. Later, she received a research grant to come to Japan to study the conditions of Filipino caregivers. On December 12, she made a presentation of her research in Japanese complete with music. "The interviews I had with many Filipino residents here who are also working as caregivers have given me more insight into the working conditions in the health sector in Japan. A Filipina worker also commented that we have to assert our rights in the workplace considering the fact that more foreign workers will be needed in this area," she explained. Soon after her successful presentation, Wowie left for the Philippines to be reunited with her family and started filming her new documentary for GMA 7.

    So what’s in store for these three young people in the year of the Mouse? No doubt it is going to be a good year and who knows WOWIE, JAMIR and FIONA will be leaders in their respective fields as the Japan Foundation has envisioned them to be: people who create and transform knowledge and culture... and eventually make it bloom.

Where are you from?
WOWIE:    Las Pinas
JAMIR:      Baguio City
FIONA:      Vienna, Austria
How long have you stayed in Japan?
W:   3 months    J:  7 months     F: on and off for 20 months
What is your occupa-tion/profession?
W:  Independent Film maker     J:  Student
F:   M.A. student
What do you miss most about the Philippines? 
W:  Warmth of our people, I miss my work and my car because while in Japan I had to take the train most of the time in my research. 
J:   My mom’s Adobo and Pinakbet.
F:   Well, I haven’t been to the Philippines yet but I miss our Christmas cookies in Austria.
What is the weirdest thing you have experienced in Japan?
W:  After using the ladies’ room at the Hanshin Department Store, I realized there were so many buttons I could not decide which is for flushing. Then I pressed a button and suddenly the security guards were standing in front of the door
J:   I find many unusual expressions in the language such as  the use of “ watashi” and “watakushi”. Of course , we have studied about honorific forms so now I understand. But  I am still puzzled by the fact that many Japanese refrain from criticism and avoid direct confrontation as much as possible.
F:  One day, I took a taxi from the station to our dormitory about 5 minutes away but when I got off, he said “That’s ok” and I really wonder if he gives free rides to anybody.
What do you like best about Japan or your place in particular?
W:  Packaging and wrapping of goods and all canned goods can be opened easily.
J:  I like the colors of autumn. Trains are so convenient.
F:   There are so many restaurants to choose from.
If you can change one thing about Japan, what would it be?
W:  More humor in their lives. Life needs balance. Filipinos always laugh but that isn’t enough. The Japanese are no doubt the most hardworking people but having a little lighter approach to things will make each day bearable.
J:   Maybe more open- mindedness to diversities in multicultural settings.
F:   Well, I think that in the light of the current environmental issues, there should be less packaging and wasting. People just keep on buying things they don’t really need and then throwing them away indiscriminately.
If you could teach things you have learned from the Japanese, what would it be?
W: The patience and perseverance of the Japanese, when they know that something has to be done, they strive to finish it no matter how.
J:  Sense of Discipline and Punctuality.
F:  Inspite of the fact that many things seem superficial in Japan, I still admire the way the Japanese hold on to their traditional culture such as genuinely appreciating art forms and the natural environment.
Please tell us about your recipe for a successful life in Japan.
W:  Like most Filipinos abroad, I believe that our greatest motivation is our family and it is a choice we make as a Filipino. Whenever I think of my mom and my family, the greater patience I have to strive and move on with my research.
J:  Be it good or bad stuff, I try to be critical and appreciative as well. As I begin another day, I try to look at the positive side first, coming to terms with the way of living here, made a lot of difference especially at my first winter here.   
F: Unless I don’t find something to cling to like a job or project that I really want to do or something that can make me feel that I am doing something worthwhile then I can survive anywhere.

-------------------------------------------------------------
NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2007
A ROSE AMONG THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS
With ROSEMARIE  KASAI
Rose with son & daughter
       Hirakata Park in Hirakata City showcases the KIKU NINGYO  or life-sized dolls garbed in chrysanthemum flowers. In winter, lonely Filipinos, attracted by the brightly decorated attractions spend Christmas and New Year here inspite of the freezing temperature. But maybe not this year anymore. In nearby Korien Station, a certain Rose from Bicol will be on hand to welcome guests at her restaurant BICOL EXPRESS and newly – opened karaoke bar BE-COOL. Every little corner in the restaurant tells much about the owner. Copies of JP are neatly displayed waiting to be picked up by customers. Newspaper clippings and pictures of her dance troupe are on the wall close to a huge TV screen that run a non-stop Pinoy variety show.

        Rose came to Japan about 20 years ago. She got married gave birth to a girl Maria Cristina
(17) and Timothy James (15). In 1999, with the advise and assistance of Ms. Carmen Matsushima she organized the Osaka Mabuhay Community and they have  performed in various events in Kansai. Officials at the Hirakata City Government were so impressed with their performances that they were also invited to schools and community centers. Just before her eldest daughter entered Senior High School, Rose and her husband parted ways.

        Determined to go on with raising her two children, she opened BICOL EXPRESS to supplement the family income. "Hay naku, talagang kayod ang ginawa ko. Mula umaga hanggang madaling araw, mag-isa akong nagtiyaga---- pamamalengke, luto, linis etc. Alam mo, pag tapos na ang lunch sa restaurant, takbo na ako sa station. Naka-Philippine costume: minsan Maria Clara, minsan Igorota, minsan Muslim.
Nagpapamigay ako ng leaflet para mag-attract ng customers," recalls Rose with pride. On some days, she would ride in her bicycle distributing leaflets in every house. Her efforts paid off when a Japanese family came in to try Philippine food after getting a leaflet in their mailbox.
Recently, her customers include Brazilians and Colombians who live in the area. Even those who come all the way from Shiga and Kyoto drop by to eat. Another Filipina who visits regularly, Arlene Mishima, the Queen of Korien -- according to Rose, has all praises for the hardworking Rose of Korien or Pacing, a nickname given to her for being too apologetic.

       Realizing their mom’s perseverance, her children have started to assist her at the restaurant on days they are free from school. "Pati nga boyfriend ng anak ko e tumutulong na rin," she adds. Still the big bulk of managing the business rests on her shoulders. She read books on bookkeeping and taxation. Now that she opened a karaoke bar she named BE-COOL with Sharen, a part-timer she hired to manage the place, Rose can now take a little time off to sing her favorite “...can’t help myself. I fall in love again.” And to all of those spending Christmas in Japan, try Bicol Express dishes this Christmas and the Rose of Hirakata will make sure you will come back again and again.

MALIGAYANG PASKO AT MASAGANANG BAGONG TAON SA INYONG LAHAT!
 
Where are you from?
THE BICOL REGION DAET, CAMARINES NORTE.

What is your occupation/ profession?
PHILIPPINE RESTAURANT OWNER

What do you miss most about the Philippines?
THE REUNIONS AND PARTIES WITH MY FAMILY AT CHRISTMAS

What’s the weirdest thing you have experienced in Japan?
WHEN I STAYED WITH MY MOTHER-IN-LAW A FEW MONTHS AFTER MARRIAGE, I NOTICED THAT FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS WERE QUITE
DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I WAS USED TO IN THE PHILIPPINES  SUCH AS CARING FOR THE SICK AND THE ELDERLY. THERE WAS NOT MUCH OF THE TENDER LOVING CARE FILIPINOS ARE CAPABLE OF.  I TOOK CARE OF MY MOTHER-IN-LAW UNTIL HER DEATH IN 1994.

What do you like best about Japan or your place in particular?
HIRAKATA IS VERY ACCESIBLE AND IT IS ONLY ABOUT 15 MINUTES AWAY FROM KYOBASHI BY KEIHAN LINE; THE CITY GOVERNMENT ASSISTS FOREIGNERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. THEY ALSO ORGANIZE PROGRAMS TO PROMOTE PHILIPPINE CULTURE IN SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY CENTERS.

If you can change one thing about Japan, what would it be?
FROM SO MUCH INCLINATION TO MATERIAL THINGS  TO  A  SHIFT TO MORAL VALUES BY PRACTICING SOME FORMS OF RELIGION. EVERY NOW AND THEN WE READ NEWS ABOUT CHILDREN KILLING THEIR PARENTS. THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN IF THEY HAVE STRONG MORAL-FOUNDATIONS     
                          
If you could teach things you have learned from the Japanese, what would it be?
BEING PUNCTUAL, EFFICIENT AND KEEPING A PROMISE.

And please tell us about your recipe for a successful life in Japan?
I START MY DAY WITH PRAYERS AND IT ENERGIZES ME TO GO ON UNTIL THE END OF THE DAY. THE LORD HELPED PAVE THE WAY FOR THE OPENING OF MY NEW PLACE.





ON THE ROAD TO...
KYOTO AND UJI WITH TALES BY
Prof.  JORGE  V.  TIGNO

    JOJIE, the witty but not at all nutty professor, would be telling tales of his Japan sojourn to students in UP by the time this issue is off the press. He would have brought with him the sights and sounds of “Gion Matsuri” as omiyage. This is one of the 3 most famous festivals in Japan that features a procession of floats with decorative halberds held every summer in the ancient capital of Kyoto. He will miss the millennium celebration of the world renowned Japanese epic “TALES OF GENJI” set in the historic town of UJI. Nevertheless, Jojie’s tales of adventures and mis-adventures with Filipinos based in Kansai will be retold to succeeding generations.
 
     JORGE “JOJIE” V. TIGNO is an Associate Professor at the University of the
Philippines’ Dept. of Political Science. With a Japanese Studies Fellowship from  the Japan Foundation, he was based at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies. His research is on Filipinos in Osaka and Kyoto and their sense of national and political identity in Japan. For someone with such an impressive academic background, people would have shied away from him. It would be unthinkable to see him comb the streets of Minami looking for a Philippine restaurant, and finally settling for a Japanese cold tea that blends well with the palatable Philippine BBQ sold by Mr. Roland at a Philippine event in Soemon-cho. After a while, some Filipino friends invited him to join them at a party nearby which turned out to be a despedida for a Filipino contract worker going home the next day.
    Amid the smell of delectable Filipino dishes all lined up for guests, the singing and
the chatting punctuated by the arrival of an ABS-CBN Japanese talent YA-CHAN.
    JOJIE is cool and calm. Pagdating sa “Kodakan” kasama siya. At kasama rin siya sa takbuhan para abutan ang huling tren pabalik sa Kyoto. Filipinos really know how to enjoy their time inspite of the strenuous working conditions in Japan. Somehow, they transform the social landscape of Japan.
      In parallel to the observations of Takeo Doi in “Amae no Kozo” as translated to Filipino by Dr. Lilia F. Antonio (ref. Mga Sanaysay at mga Tula by L.F. Antonio), JOJIE , has written several articles on MIGRATION TO JAPAN, FILIPINO VIEWS OF JAPAN and FILIPINO IDENTITY IN JAPAN among others. Mr. Doi cited an experience in the house of an American he visited. He was asked if he was hungry. Although he had not eaten yet, he declined because it was considered impolite to answer directly. So he was never served anything to his dismay because he was expecting to be asked again or he thought a Japanese would rather serve a guest anything without even asking. "In this respect, the Japanese and the Filipinos are similar," says Jojie. "Pinoys go back to their roots, no matter where they are in any place in the world. So it’s basically the urge to  'entertain' with food."
      His short stay in Japan has been very productive as shown by his presence at meetings and events of various Filipino communities in Kansai, functions of The Philippine Consulate General in Osaka including being an observer at the May General Elections ballot-counting for Absentee Voters. Last March, in observance of International Women’s Day spearheaded by Consul-General Ma.
Lourdes Ramiro-Lopez with the assistance of PCCC (Philippine Community
Coordinating Council) Jojie was the only gentleman in the panel where he discussed “Gender Typing.” Months after the forum, Jojie and Noemi Itsukage, PCCC chair-person, and one of the Power Women he mentioned in his article had a casual discussion
on recent trends in Japan and on thinking of the young adults. Jojie seems fascinated with the fashion of young men. "Mga bag nila, kung hindi kumikinang, e, kulay pula o pink, bulaklakan pa! Yun pala e lalaki,” Jojie chuckles. Sagot ni Noemi “Yung panganay ko nga, minsan naka-wrap-around skirt. Ayaw na ayaw makita ng asawa ko. Nuong dumalaw mga pamangkin ko rito, nakakita ng mga 'punks' sa Shinsaibashi, may naka-tiss ang dyed hair. Kung nasa Pilipinas lang sila, nagulpi na sila…"  Jorge says that generally, many young Japanese have imbibed discipline in their daily life inspite of the changing times. Noemi
says that they are sensitive to noise but still maintain an imaginary wall not to listen to something they are not supposed to hear. “Kaya nga sa mga coffee shops kahit dinig na dinig mo na ang istorya ng buhay ng nagsasalita, parang walang narinig," adds Noemi as JOJIE smiles back. He knows, inspite of his gentle countenance that he has lots of tales to tell his wife and 3 children waiting for him back in the Philippines.




Where are you from?
MANILA
What is your occupation?
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE IN U.P. DILIMAN
How long have you lived in Japan?
FOR ONLY 10 MONTHS
What do you miss most about the Philippines?
FOOD LIKE OLD TIME FAVORITES KARE-KARE, LAING, TAPSILOG, LONGANISA. I ALSO MISS THE WARMTH OF FAMILY. IT SEEMS THAT IN THE PHILIPPINES, PEOPLE HAVE TIME FOR EVERYONE.
What is the weirdest thing that you have experienced in Japan?
ONE NIGHT I STAYED OVERNIGHT IN MINAMI WITH ROBERT, A FILIPINO MUSICIAN.
I SAW MANY JAPANESE SALARIED WORKERS - - DRUNK AND BOISTEROUS… QUITE CONTRARY TO MY FIRST IMPRESSION OF AN ORDERLY JAPAN.
What do you like best about Japan?
THE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IS PROBABLY THE BEST IN THE WORLD.
I ALWAYS ACCESS A SITE THAT PROVIDES QUICK AND ACCURATE TRAIN
SCHEDULES THAT EVEN INCLUDES FARES.
If you can change one thing about Japan, what would it be?
PERHAPS, THE COLDNESS AND THE ALOOFNESS  OF  THE JAPANESE. FOR SOMEONE ACCUSTOMED TO THE READY SMILE OF THE FILIPINO, THE FORMALITIES IN DEALING WITH THE JAPANESE MAY BE QUITE
FRUSTRATING.
If you can teach things you have learned from the Japanese, what would it be?
TIME MANAGEMENT ,,,,,MEETINGS, LECTURES , SOCIAL EVENTS , EXCURSIONS OR SIMPLE FAMILY OUTINGS ARE SYSTEMATICALLY SCHEDULED WITH NO TIME WASTED.
DRESSING APPROPRIATELY …. THE JAPANESE SENSE IN DRESSING FOR A CERTAIN OCCASION IS WORTH EMULATING- EVEN CASUAL STYLE IS “SMART CASUAL” FOR THEM.
Please tell us about your recipe for a successful life in Japan.
PERSEVERANCE. IF YOU ARE FACED WITH CHALLENGES SUCH AS PEOPLE NOT WANTING TO TALK OR LISTEN TO YOU. THE BEST APPROACH IS NOT TO BE TOO AGGRESSIVE MAYBE YOU CAN COME UP WITH CREATIVE WAYS TO CONVINCE OTHERS.


THE QUEEN OF HER CHILDREN’S HEARTSwith HELEN  UEDE


The merry month of May is here again. Golden Week sa Japan… panahon na naman ng pista at Flores de Mayo sa Pilipinas at mayroon ding 2007 General Elections sa May 14. At sa May 13 naman ay Mother’s Day where children all over the world shower their Mums, Mommies, mamas and Nanay’s with carnations or cards.

Helen Uede has been waiting for years even to get a glimpse of her two children separated from her after divorce. It has been 10 years since that bitter family court dispute but inspite of that, Helen exudes an aura of confidence. She reminds me of this year's academy awardee for best actress Helen Mirren, deserving of the accolades she received for her remarkable portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the movie “THE QUEEN.”

Helen is endowed with beauty typical of women from the South. Born in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, she graduated from Mindanao State University BSBA Accounting, cum laude. She worked with the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank before marrying a South Korean living in Osaka. Kuntento na sana si Helen sa pagiging “ideal housewife” at ina ng kanilang dalawang anak. Sa una, napagtiisan niya ang walang katapusang “Hoji” o seremonya para sa mga yumaong kaanak o kaya naman ay ang mga responsibilidad ng panganay na anak na lalaki sa pamilya. Nalaman niyang ganoon ang tradisyon ng mga Koreano kahit sa Japan na sila ipinanganak.
 
The worst drove Helen to the wall. When her husband’s business went bankrupt, he turned to alcohol. "Mabuti na lamang at may mga kaibigan akong Pinay na natutuluyan. Kung nagwawala na siya, awang-awa ako sa mga anak ko. At ng mahuli kong may iba siyang babae, noon ako nag-decide na humiwalay. Isang gabi , habang natutulog kami ng mga bata, may bumasag sa bintana sa 2nd floor. At yung girlfriend nya pala iyon. She tried desperately to win him back because she knew he did not want a divorce. I left the house right after that. On certain days, I would visit the children but later on my mother-in-law meddled and stopped me from seeing them. Humantong sa family court ang kaso. Tinulungan naman ako ng isang NGO group pero sa bandang huli, natalo ako sa visitation rights dahil wala nga akong stable source of income to support my young children. What really hurt me was that they were able to coerced the kids to speak against me. I felt like the whole world fell apart in front of me. Para bang niyurakan ang aking pagiging Pilipina. But I cried in silence believing that I will always be a mother in their hearts.”
     
Helen strived hard to move on and remarried a kind and loving Japanese
she nicknamed KIKO. Although she misses her children, she never fails to send them birthday greetings. She devoted her time to work, first at International Digital Communications 0061 in the late 90’s. Helen was very instrumental in IDC’s sponsorship of the Centennial Celebration of Philippine Independence held at the Asian Trade Center in 1998. After leaving IDC, she found another fulfilling job as a freelance interpreter which gives her more time with Kiko and a chance to travel once in a while. "If this is what we call empowerment of women, then I would gladly say that I have found my real worth as a woman," Helen said with a dignified smile. And as if I heard her say, "Someday, somehow…the same thing might happen to you.”

Where are you from?
TACURONG, SULTAN KUDARAT
What is your occupation/ profession?
INTERTRETER
How long have you lived in Osaka?
ABOUT 21 YEARS
What do you miss most about the Philippines?
SIYEMPRE, YUNG PAMILYA KO ROON.
What is the weirdest thing that you have experienced in Japan?
NOONG SUMUGOD SA BAHAY NAMIN ANG LOVER NG DATING ASAWA KO… PUMANHIK SA ITAAS, BINASAG ANG SALAMIN NG BINTANA. AKALA KO WALANG GUMAGAWA NG GANOON DITO SA JAPAN.
What do you like best about Japan?
IN GENERAL, JAPAN IS STILL THE SAFEST PLACE TO LIVE.
If you can change one thing about Japan, what would it be?
I HOPE THAT COUPLES CAN VIEW MARRIAGE AS A LIFETIME COMMITMENT NOT ONLY TO EACH OTHER BUT TO THEIR CHILDREN, AS WELL. WHEN COUPLES DIVORCE, IT IS THE CHILDREN WHO SUFFER THE
CONSEQUENCES.
If you can teach things you have learned from the Japanese, what would it be?
AS EVERY ONE KNOWS, PUNCTUALITY IS  NUMBER ONE, DILIGENCE IS NEXT AND THE THIRD IS  DEDICATION TO WORK.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE IN JAPAN.
BY HAVING AN OPEN COMMUNICATION BETWEEN ME AND MY HUSBAND, KIKO
AND OF COURSE, BY BEING SIMPLY MYSELF.


A ROAD NOT YET TAKEN
with CHARLIE


  
  MARCH, a month that seems to me like a big kaleidoscope. At one glance, the colors begin to appear like a rainbow and then at the next peep, they all disappear. This is a month of endings and beginnings, as well. This is the season for graduations - from kindergarten to university; a season for moving to new homes or for transferring to new jobs. This is also a time for deadlines. The end of the fiscal year means filing     income taxes. And speaking of deadlines, I was caught right in the middle of everything with a bad cold which I have been nursing for several days now. Mabuti na lang at mahaba ang pasensya ng mabait na JP editor na si Dennis.
     At my youngest son’s graduation from Senior High School, a blessing in disguised for me considering the fact that he was a “FUTOKO” (a habitual absentee) since elementary, I shed a tear for the first time. It is not the usual me. I used to wonder why many Japanese cry at graduation ceremonies as the background music accentuates the scene. After the certificates were given, the Principal gave a very touching speech with
“My Way” as the BGM. He advised the graduates to face life’s challenges and move on to the next step.
      I always thought my son would never graduate. As I saw him stood up when his name was announced, he was confident. Then I realized that I must write something on how this young man overcame social hurdles in search for his Filipino heritage.
     Charlie was born with deformed thumbs and underwent two painful operations to reform his fingers. When he started elementary, his classmates thought that having only 4 fingers on each hand was odd. So, they began to poke fun at him. He could not write well and it took so much time for him to tear papers or pick up something. Going to school was not fun anymore so Charlie started to skip classes and waking up each morning became difficult. We started to bring him to counseling sessions once a week. In Grade 5, Ms, Okada, his homeroom teacher thought of ways to make Charlie enjoy school. She divided the class into groups and assigned them to make a research on the Philippines with topics like basic Information about the Philippines: short history, Filipino folktales, food, costumes, and school Life of Filipino children. The research was so extensive that it was presented to the school administrators and teachers of the whole Osaka Prefecture as a sample activity for multicultural understanding. That same year, Charlie was featured in a Documentary produced by NHK’s “Hello Nippon entitled: “Firipin no Kodomo Tachi” where Filipino –Japanese children talked about problems of being bullied in schools because of their multicultural background.
       With a little confidence gained, he decided to take up Information Technology in Senior High School because of his special interest in computers. Just before graduation, his homeroom teacher, Hotokawa-sensei helped him land a job at a subsidiary company operating at Kansai International Airport. His fascination for airplanes and airports started during our first visit to the Philippines when he bought his first set of miniature PAL planes which is now part of his worldwide collection of toy planes. And now his dream of seeing real planes fly and land has come true.
       Looking back at those days when he didn’t want to go to school and how our family struggled to cope up with a child with an identity problem, it was not easy preserving the family harmony. But some of these sacrifices will bear fruit in the future as Charlie takes the road not yet taken.

Where are you from?
OSAKA
What is your occupation?
SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE
How many times have you been to the Philippines?
MORE THAN 10 TIMES.
What do you like best about the Philippines?
THE TRICYCLE ---- CUTE and CONVENIENT AND THE JEEPNEY BUT A LITTLE TOO COLORFUL
What is the weirdest thing that you have experienced in the Philippines?
WHILE HAVING DINNER AT A RESTAURANT IN THE PHILIPPINES WHEN I WAS ABOUT 8  YEARS OLD, ALL OF A SUDDEN THE WAITERS BEGAN TO SING. THEN THE COOKS JOINED THE BAND AND EVEN THE SECURITY GUARD BELTED OUT A SONG. I THOUGHT THEY WERE CRAZY BUT THEY WERE VERY
EXCELLENT. I LEARNED LATER THAT IT WAS THE FAMOUS SINGING COOKS AND WAITERS RESTAURANT.
What do you like best about Japan?
THEIR EDUCATION SYSTEM ENABLES ANYBODY TO GO THROUGH PROPER SCHOOLING.
If you can change things in Japan, what would it be?
MAYBE I WOULD LIKE JAPAN TO GO BACK TO HOW IT WAS TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHEN NEIGHBORS AND OTHER COMMUNITY MEMBERS HAD MORE TIME TO TALK LEISURELY.
If you could teach things you have learned from the Filipinos, what would it be?
BEING GENUINELY GENEROUS.  WHEN WE WENT ON HOLIDAYS IN BORACAY, A SCENIC WHITE BEACH RESORT, I SAW YOUNG BOYS CATCHING SMALL CRABS. I WANTED SOME FOR MYSELF, TOO, BUT I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO CATCH.  I TRIED TO PAY THEM IN EXCHANGE FOR THE CRABS, BUT THE BOYS SAID WITH BEAMING FACES, YOU CAN HAVE ALL OF THE CRABS AS A SOUVENIR FROM US.
Please tell us about your recipe for a successful life in Japan.
MY FAMILY’S LOVE AND SUPPORT, ESPECIALLY MY TWO OLDER BROTHERS, ANDREW AND BRANDO. ANDREW IS STRICT WITH ME BUT I HAVE LEARNED MANY THINGS ABOUT BUSINESS FROM HIM. BRANDO HAS GIVEN ME A LOT OF ADVICE ON FASHION AND HAIRSTYLE. IF THERE IS A CHANCE, I WOULD LIKE TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES AGAIN WITH THEM. EVEN A SHORT VISIT IS SO RELAXING OVER THERE. IT'S JUST WHAT EVERYBODY NEEDS TO COPE UP WITH OUR HECTIC LIFESTYLE IN JAPAN.

----------------------------------------------------






THE SHOPPING PARADISE OF OSAKA - KITA AREA WITH CHRISTIAN “TOSHI” DELOS SANTOS
January-February 2007 Issue

 
     A HAPPY NEW YEAR dear Jeepney Press readers. It’s the year of the boar and in accordance with the traditional “Toka Ebisu”, from Jan. 9-11, people make a pilgrimage to Nishinomiya Shrine to pray to the God of good fortune “EBESSAN." Yoi Ebisu is on the 9th, Hon Ebisu is 10th and the 11th is the nokori fuku. FUKUOTOKO, which means “lucky person” is the title given to the first man who enters the shrine after the gate opens at 6 a.m. after a tough race of more than a hundred men.
     And for sure, we also have a FUKUOTOKO to be the first this year in this column…. TOSHI. On the day of our interview on January 10, he was in his favorite shop in the Kita area, home to the largest terminal station complex in western Japan and a gigantic shopping and entertainment district and by the year 2011, it is going to be another exciting shopper’s paradise. He is an avid collector of GUNDAM TOYS and exotic pets: beetles, tarantulas, a green iguana and a Ball python… just to mention a few.
    CHRISTIAN DELOS SANTOS was born in Osaka in 1974, to a Japanese mother and a Filipino government official. When he was five years old, they moved to the Philippines but visited Japan occasionally on holidays. He went to study at an exclusive Catholic school. His Dad introduced Toshi to the exciting world of animals through books. When he was 8, he started collecting toys and soon those were replaced with real  
animals: 3 reticulated pythons among those that escaped from their cages one time.
      While in college, he was smitten by a young and charming classmate named Jean, got married and are now parents of two lovable kids aged 10 and 8. The young family man worked as a steward at PAL for only 8 months. In order to support his growing family, his mother suggested that he should find a better job in Japan. He worked at a wood flooring company in Nagoya. Later on, a friend of his Mom, Mr. Ninomiya recommended him to the DOT Osaka. He felt that the job gave him a better chance to do his PR skills. When renowned coutourier, PITOY MORENO guested at a BRIDAL FASHION SHOW with his top models, he requested DOT Osaka to look for a male model. So they sent him Toshi’s photos and the coutourier was pleased. Toshi’s debut on the ramp was followed with pictorials in some scenic spots in Mie Prefecture which were included in a publication of Pitoy’s creation. He was also invited to model for community events where he would often be asked to sing, too. 
  
   More opportunities came in 2003 when he joined the Metrobank Osaka  Marketing team where they get a chance to meet many Filipino workers in various parts of Japan. “We were treated as VIP’s by many of our kababayans from as far as Hiroshima, Mie, Aichi and Shiga. My former boss, Sir Alfred, always urged Pinoys to save something for themselves, too, instead of remitting all of their hard-earned yen to the Philippines. He also has a lot of nice things to say about his new boss Sir Marlon--- kind and fair.
     A loyal family man who believes in putting the family on his top priority, Toshi spends his free time playing with his kids: Jerise Toshimasa and Shien Mariko. Maybe I am more like my dad who taught me how to play basketball, billiard and boxing. On days-off, he plays basketball with some of his Chinese, Hawaiian and Filipino friends. Thanks to my understanding wife, Jean, I still enjoy some freedom including keeping his entire collection of 300 Gundam figures, some of those are the rare American figures that can fetch high prices. I do not open those. I consider this hobby a kind of treasure-hunting.
      Although he misses his other siblings in the Philippines like Christopher, Clark Catherine and Kaori, he walks around Kita-area for the latest addition to his collection of toys and some exotic animals for sale.
      Looking towards what is best for him in 2007, Toshi believes that the biggest motivation for Pinoys working here is the fact that their families in the Philippines can enjoy a better life.


Where are you from?
    PARANAQUE, METRO MANILA
What is your occupation/profession?
     BANKER.
How long have you lived in Japan?
     I WAS BORN HERE IN OSAKA IN 1974, THEN WE MOVED TO MANILA IN 1979. IN YEAR 2000, I STARTED TO WORK HERE.,
What do you miss most about the Philippines?
     BASKETBALL AND THE GYM IN METRO MANILA.
What is the weirdest thing that you have experienced in Japan?
     PEOPLE OFTEN THINK I AM CHINESE OR KOREAN ESPECIALLY WHEN I START TO TALK IN JAPANESE.
What do you like best about Japan?
     IT IS SO PEACEFUL HERE, SO TIDY AND EVERYTHING IS PRECISE. YOU
WILL SURELY REACH YOUR DESTINATIONS ON TIME BY TRAIN. NO TIME IS
WASTED.
If you can change one thing about Japan, what would it be?
     I THINK IT IS ABOUT TIME THEY GAIN AN APPRECIATION OF OTHER FOREIGN CULTURES  AND I WISH MANY JAPANESE CAN COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH OPENLY SO THAT IT WILL BE A LITTLE EASIER FOR FOREIGNERS TO LIVE HERE.
If you can teach things you have learned from the Japanese, what would it be?
      DISCIPLINE AND ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS. I WAS IMPRESSED AT HOW
ORDERLY THE PEOPLE LINED UP AT THE CONCERT OF “COLD PLAY.”
Please tell us about your recipe for a successful life in Japan.
      HARD WORK, PATIENCE AND PRAYERS. AND ONE MORE THING, I THINK THAT IT IS MY ATTITUDE TO ALWAYS FIND TIME FOR EVERY THING: MY FAMILY, MY WORK AND MY HOBBIES THAT MAKE MY DAILY LIFE SO INTERESTING.




with LIZETTE DIANE YU KO MITAMURATHE
MAPLE COLORED MOUNTAINS OF MINOO
with LIZETTE DIANE YU KO MITAMURA
(September-October Issue 2006)

Autumn is when the mountains of Minoo in northern Osaka change their colors to bright orange and golden brown. In contrast to the baby pink colors of the cherry blossoms in spring, the autumn colors and its falling leaves herald a new time for reflection for many. But for the young, it is a time to prepare for maturity.

Pretty and bubbly at 15, Lizette Diane Yu Ko Mitamura or Zeena for short is Grade 10 (equivalent to 3rd year JHS ) at the Senri International School in Onohara, located between two state universities soon to merge in 2008 --- the Osaka University and the Osaka University of Foreign Studies. Scholars and researchers from all over the world convene in this serene international metropolis where the majestic Sun Symbol of Expo’70 can be seen from the Minoo Falls.
    
Zeena’s diverse cultural background is as unique as the person that she is. Sometimes she laments the fact that many Japanese teenagers are not proud of their rich cultural heritage. Sometimes youngsters from other countries come to Japan with a preconceived meaning of “Japanese culture” – limited to anime, manga,video games and J-Pop culture. Other teenagers, especially a group of exchange students from Melbourne, Australia who came to Osaka have been studying Japanese language and culture prior to their visit.
       
Life at Osaka International School is spiced with her involvement in the school’s musical presentations. She started with minor roles in Grade 5 in such musicals as The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and as the main character Brundibar, she had more singing roles but so far the most challenging was her role in The Magic Flute. Aside from that she plays the flute, the piano and the guitar in some concerts of the school.
 
Summer of  2006  gave a new meaning for Zeena as she prepares for a stage in her life. Instead of chasing cicadas, she has her mind set on chasing her dreams. She started to teach English to some neighborhood kids and she also practiced basketball in the Junior Varsity Team.

Where does Zeena get her inspiration to do so many things and at the same time exude an air of confidence and maturity?  “ It is my sense of adaptability that helps me through various situations. I love to be with the Filipinos where I am able to be myself. I got used to Filipino customs earlier in my life. It is easy to find friends among them because everyone is so accommodating.” One of Zeena’s memorable experiences was her participation in the 2005 MIDOSUJI PARADE. Garbed in a colorful Filipina dress, she rode on the Philippine float together with 3 other Filipino-Japanese teenagers, ably representing the lofty ideals of the youth of the millennium. “Waving to hundreds of spectators along the parade route, posing for pictures, I felt a great sense of national pride. It was so overwhelming," she said.

Coincidentally, Keihan Line in Osaka has just issued new “K” railway cards with Zeena’s picture in the Philippine Float during the Midosuji Parade. Resplendent in the regal Philippine terno with the butterfly sleeves as if all set to fly to a new phase of her life.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I am from Osaka but my mom is from Manila.
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION/PROFESSION?
Grade 10 student at the Osaka International School in Onohara (equivalent
to 3rd year Junior High School  in Japan)
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN JAPAN?
Since birth (I’m 15 years old now).
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE FILIPINOS?
Filipinos can laugh their hearts out. They are so fun to be with. With Filipinos, anybody can be considered a friend.
WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED IN JAPAN?
One time, when I was in Kita-senri with my classmates, we started to converse in English. Some senior high school girls started to stare at us, visibly bewildered at how Asians like us could be talking in English like Americans.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT JAPAN?
Everything in Osaka is likeable. People are so friendly and approachable. Osaka dialect seems to put people at ease and I am proud of it. Tokyo in contrast seems unfriendly maybe because people are always on the go with hardly any time to talk.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The young generation. They seem to lack pride in their own culture and get totally immersed in foreign cultures especially on the latest trends and get crazy about them. My American and Australian friends who visit Japan often wonder why many young Japanese do not even know the rich culture of their country like “Shamisen and Koto.”
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM JAPAN?
Respect for the elders. But sometimes, we still need to respect them even the so called “Gangko Oyaji” or the resilient and staunch elders even if they hold too much to their beliefs.    
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS YOUR ADVANTAGE COMPARED TO THE OTHER JAPANESE STUDENTS?
Maybe it is my natural ability to adapt to people of different backgrounds. With the Americans, the British and the Australians, I am more straightforward. With the Osaka people, I feel relaxed and at ease but with the Filipinos, there is really nothing to adjust. I am very much at home with the Pinoys.     



(July-August 2006 Isuue)

ON THE ROAD TO...
ARASHIYAMA  in  KYOTO
Where A Thousand Fans Cool
the Hot Summer Days
with MELY  IRIARTE  KOHNO

Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, is an all year-round tourist destination
not only for tourists from abroad but for locals as well. It is cold and
damp in winter but hot and also damp in summer with
temperatures soaring high in July and August. April is the favorite
month for cherry blossoms viewing but the best season of all is
autumn. However, Kyoto is always “in-season.” The choir of crickets
and the twinkling of “furin” (wind bells) and the beautiful Kyoto fans
provide a respite from the heat.
       Twenty-six years ago, Amelia Iriarte Kohno, from Tacloban,
Leyte, landed in Kyoto and has made the scenic Arashiyama her
home. Every time dignitaries from the Philippines visit Japan,
Mely is always on hand to guide them to the famous shrines and
temples from Kinkakuji to Kiyomizu to the Heian Shrine or to
watch the gigantic Gion Festival, then walk through the old streets
of Gion scene of the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Some of the VIPs
she toured include Ambassador Siazon’s mother, the late Foreign
Affairs Secretary Blas Ople’s sister, Sec. Mar Roxas, the Venecia
family and no less than Pres. Gloria Arroyo when she was still a
senator.
       A busy woman herself, Mely, finds time for everyone because
she is genuinely interested in people. During her tenure as President
of the Kyoto Pag-asa Community, a strong church-based
Filipino Community in Kyoto, they extended social and legal
services to many Filipina victims of domestic violence. With the
help of the Filipino sisters, they provided shelter to many of them
or gave orientation to new-comers in Kyoto for almost a decade
in the late 80’s to the late ’90’s. At present, she serves as adviser
of the group and is in-charge of the social services committee.
       Mely is a Chemical Engineering graduate from the University
of Southern Philippines. Later, she joined the regional tourism office
as Promotions Officer until her marriage with Mr. Kohno. Their
only daughter, Aimi, acquired much of her mother’s charm and
friendliness. Mely loves to entertain at home and the Kohno residence
is always full of Filipino friends of her mom --- Catholic nuns and
other churchgoers or some Ikebana enthusiasts. Mely is a member
of Ikebana International and in many of their events, she has
showcased the best of her country by using tropical orchids and
local “Vanda” using a huge “Anahaw” fan for dramatic effect.
       Five years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and
underwent an operation. But soon after, she was up and about again
even traveling here and abroad with her students. Last year, she was
in the Philippines again at the seminar of the “Mother Earth
Connection,” another group she founded with Sr. Agneta Lauzon
of St. Joseph’s College who helped Mely in Kyoto some years
ago.
       Unknown to many except for a few close friends, the dreadful
disease has spread to her skin and lymph nodes that she had to
undergo chemo-therapy. "After each treatment, I get so nauseated
but I know that I have to bear this and never give up. I have to go
against the odds,” says Mely with the usual chuckles that has inspired
over a thousand people she has met in Japan and elsewhere. Soon
after, she has received letters of encouragement, phone calls and
prayers, she adds, “I was thrilled to know that so many friends
cared for me.”
      On quiet days, she sits by the Katsura River in Arashiyama and
watch people strolling along. As time passes by, she reminishes about
her beloved Tacloban, so serene and majestic, very much like MELY.

WHERE  ARE  YOU  FROM ?
Tacloban, Leyte
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION/ PROFESSION?
Freelance Interpreter.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN JAPAN? 26 years.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?
The food, of course! I really miss the sumptuous family breakfasts
we have with our family and relatives in Leyte… with lots of native delicacies!
WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING THAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED IN JAPAN?
When I spent my first new year in Japan with my husband’s family,
I was surprised to see that the men have to be served first. I thought
it was odd because our womenfolk in the Philippines enjoy
equal opportunities. Later on, I also found out that at home,
men take a bath ahead of all the female members of the family.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT JAPAN?
The people. They really work hard. And when they start any project,
they work hard on it from beginning to end.
IF YOU CAN CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The family life. There seems to be so much formalities even
among immediate family members and their traditional duties as
a member of the family affect even their personal decisions.
IF YOU CAN TEACH THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE JAPANESE, WHAT WOULD THEY BE? DILIGENCE and CLEANLINESS. Japan is one
of the countries in the world with an ecological friendly garbage
disposal system.
PLEASE TELL US  ABOUT  YOUR RECIPE  FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE IN JAPAN.
It took me some time to completely understand the Japanese way of
life as in the winning strategy formulated by a great samurai
warrior named Musashi Miyamoto. This is why I learned how
to act appropriately when dealing with the Japanese.
I also do not compare people but rather understand their
complex differences as human beings. However, once you get
absorbed into the ways of the Japanese, it can work both ways
as they will begin to like you as a person regardless of who
you are.

 ------------------------------------------------------------

KOBE, WHERE THE SETTING SUN ALSO RISES with
MR. FRANK P. CATAJOY, Pioneer  Filipino Community Leader
(May-June Issue)


      Kobe, the proud  cosmopolitan city that literally rose from the
ashes after the devastating Great  Hanshin Earthquake in 1995,
has a new attraction… the newly-opened Kobe Airport which
started operations late last year. From its observation deck,
couples line up to watch incoming flights from places like
Kagoshima, Okinawa, Sapporo, Sendai, and Tokyo as the brazen
sun set contentedly behind the  mountains. And during this time,
FRANK P. CATAJOY (86 yrs. old), a long-time Filipino resident of
Kobe, starts out for a long walk around his residence near Port Island
in Kobe, a few stations away by portliner from Kobe Airport.
He carries a walking stick just to keep his balance. He said that it
even helps him get a seat in buses or trains. When nearly 80% of
Japan’s aging population retires to bed early, Frank belts  out a few
songs at Filipino-owned bars in Sannomiya, and goes home around
11:00 PM after having a few drinks. By 12 midnight, he is neatly
tucked in bed. As soon as the sun rises, he is up and ready to face
another day.
        FRANK, can be righteously called the father of the Filipino
Community in Kobe for having founded the Filipino Community in
Kobe (FILCAK) on Sept. 16, 1974. During his term as president until
1986, FILCAK  organized events for Filipinos  in  Kansai, provided
assistance to newcomers in Kobe and raised funds for victims of
natural calamities in the Philippines. In the aftermath of the Great 
Hanshin Earthquake, FILCAK assisted not only their “kababayans”
but also other  foreign nationals in the area. Though victims
themselves, Mr. Catajoy, together with FILCAK officers Mr. Rey Mesa
and Mr. Roland Mendiola, distributed food, clothes and basic necessities
to Filipinos and other foreigners who were temporarily sheltered in
tents. The chairman of the prestigious International Committee of
Kansai, Mr. Philip Campanella and the Mayor of Kobe presented
a Certificate of Appreciation to Mr. Catajoy for his dynamic leadership
and assistance to the multinational community.
        What made Mr. Catajoy rise  to where he is now? My interview
with him lasted for 3 hours and  there was never a dull moment as 
“Kuya Frank” unraveled history  through “sepia” photos  and  clippings
he has neatly filed. What is so amazing about him is his superb
memory for details, dates and places of great importance. In his 61
years of stay in Japan, he has survived  10 Ambassadors and
10 Consul-Generals.
        The CATAJOY of Sogod, Southern Leyte, is an illustrious clan
whose ancestor was a “gobernadorcillo” who built the first watch
tower of the town  which protected them from invaders. He had a
talented son named Mauro who even excelled the leadership qualities
of his father. He was active in politics, religion, social events. He was
also good in Latin and the art of  “arnis.” Moreover, he was said to
have been endowed with “special powers” to cure. He married 5 times
and with his fifth wife, FRANK was born on March 5,1921.

Young and restless, he left for Cebu at 9 years old, worked as a
shoeshine boy and vendor until he graduated from Visayan College
in Cebu. When the war broke out, he went back to Leyte  and joined
the 46th  Engineering Construction Battalion of the U.S Army.
On Sept. 17, 1945, their troops landed in Yokohama  then he joined
the Philippine mission in Tokyo as clerk-typist, an item given to him
by then Secretary of Foreign Affairs  Carlos P. Romulo. He was
later transferred to Kobe in 1960 as visa clerk and later as finance
officer until his retirement in 1972. Aside from his  trading
company business, he also represented major shipping companies
in Japan.
       Frank’s flamboyant lifestyle has made him a name for himself.
He appeared as Justice Jaramillo in the movie “PRIDE” with
Hollywood stars Scott Wilson and Ronnie Cox. He was also in
several T.V. dramas with famous Japanese stars like Tomoko Ogawa,
Ryo Tamura and Teruhiko Saijo, Ken Ogata and with Philippine stars
like Techie Agbayani, Cherie and Rosemary Gil.
     Unknown to many, Frank is a devout  catholic who raised a
family of equally talented children with his wife, Yoshie a native
of Shizuoka. Like his father, his children are all boys --- 3 are in Japan
and 2 are in America. One of them, PhilJan who was educated at
Marist Brothers International School and in Sophia University is
now vice-president of a fashion company and is often featured in
Monthly Style Magazine and others. Frank  says that his wife has
been with him through good and tough times and their love for
each other has endured all odds. Living comfortably in the beautiful
city of Kobe by the sea, Frank and Yoshie enjoys occasional visits
from their children and grandchildren and attends parties of the
Filipino Community where he now serves as adviser.  At the
Christmas Party of the Philippine Community Coordinating Council
in 2005, Frank was adjudged the best dancer. As he walked with me
to the station, he said, "You know, I have been thinking about
doing something for all the Filipinos here. We need a place to
hold parties and events and especially a place to dance…"
       As I watched the setting sun  from the portliner, I seem to
see the face of Kuya Frank, the son of Sogod who really made
his life so good in the land of the rising sun.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Sogod in Southern Leyte, hometown of the great Catajoy clan
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION/PROFESSION?
I was a  dance Instructor, U.S. Army Supply Clerk, clerk-typist 
at the Philippine Mission in Tokyo, Finance Officer of the Philcongen
in Kobe and trading company President.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN JAPAN?
Almost 61 years. I arrived here on Sept. 17,1945.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?
Inspite of the fact that I have grandchildren almost everywhere in
the world, I can’t help but miss my “apos” who live in the Philippines.
WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING THAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED IN JAPAN?
At the end of World War II, when I came back to Japan, I found it
strange not to see any young Japanese ladies in the streets  --
just children and old women.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT  JAPAN?
KOBE!!! This place is indeed my destiny. When I was young, I
dreamed about this city and I never imagined that I would live
here. Infrastructure projects in Japan are remarkable and the
addition of the Kobe Airport to this city’s list of sightseeing
spots is great.
IF YOU CAN  CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN,
WHAT WOULD IT BE?
No one can change Japan. Its superior technology has improved
the lives of the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake.
IF YOU CAN TEACH THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE JAPANESE,WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The honesty and genuine helpfulness of its people.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE IN JAPAN.
First, enjoy each waking day of your life.
Second, sing your heart out  just like the way I enjoy singing at
karaoke bars but make sure you patronize those owned by
Filipinos. Third, dance to keep fit. Unfortunately, there are not so
many dancing halls to go to for social dancing, just small discos.
So I do most of my dancing at home or at Filipino community
events. Filipinos are natural dancers. They brighten up any party.

--------------------------------------------------
March-April 2006 Issue


Diaspora Ng Mga Kababaihan
with PIA ARBOLEDA


       Ang Shinsaibashi at Nipponbashi  ay dalawang lugar sa
Osaka na hindi na yata nauubusan ng mga pakulong parang
batubalaning humahatak sa mga turista—bata man o matanda.
Bukod sa mahigit na 300 mga “electrical shops” na mabibilhan
ng murang “computers” “digital cameras, videos and watches”
sa Denden Town, nariyan   din ang Namba Grand Kagetsu
Comedy Theater na pinagtatanghalan ng bantog na Yoshimoto
Comedy Group.

       Minsan sa isang buwan, dito nagpapalipas ng oras sina PIA
at JORGE sa Bic Camera. Photography ang linya ni Jorge at
Literaturang Filipino naman ang itinuturo ni Pia sa Osaka University
of Foreign Studies sa Minoo, isang oras na biyahe mula sa
Nipponbashi. Kahit kadarating lang ni Jorge sa Osaka noong
Septyembre, 2005 mas marami ang alam niyang puntahan
kaysa kay Pia na naunang dumating noong 2004. “ Mahina
 direksyon, kaya madalas maligaw, pero itong si Jorge ang
galing diyan.” Siguro nga e pinagtagpo ang aming mga landas
dahil may mga mahahalagang proyekto kaming dapat gawin.

       Ipinanganak si Pia sa Manila noong 1966, lumaki sa kainitan
ng mga demonstrasyon noong dekada 1970 at mga isyu ng
kababaihan noong dekada 1980. Pagkatapos ng unibersidad
nagturo siya sa De La Salle University kung saan siya
nakapag-sit-in sa klase ng bantog na makatang si Elynia S. Mabanglo,
ang kauna-unahang makatang babae na nakabilang sa Hall of Fame
taong 1995 ng Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. “Gustung-gusto ko ang klase niya at marami akong natutunan
tungkol sa panitikan. Ang mga diskusyon namin ay umaabot
hanggang matapos ang klase, inuman ng kape na hinahaluan
ng kuwentuhan tungkol sa aming buhay at kabuluhan bilang babae.”
Sa isang payak na pagtatagpo, nag-usbong ang pagkakaibigang pagtitibayin pa ng panahon. Para bagang nakaharap sila sa isang
salamin ng buhay --- nakita ni Elynia sa mapusok na si Pia ang
kanyang nakaraan at naaninag naman ni Pia sa matatag na si
Elynia ang kanyang hinaharap. Naisiwalat ni Elynia ang kanyang
buhay bilang ulila, pagpupunyagi bilang baguhang manunulat at
iba pang kasawian sa buhay na hanggang ngayo’y nagpapakirot
pa rin ng puso. Sa mahigpit ring pagsubaybay niya, natapos rin
ni Pia ang kanyang M.A. at doctorate degree kahit nagpapalaki
ng  anak na si Migs.

        Lumipat ang kanyang pamilya sa Baguio at sa pagitan ng
pagtuturo sa University of the Philippines, Baguio campus,
nagawa pa rin niyang tumulong sa mga Volunteer Activities
gaya ng Women’s AIDS Hotline Counseling. Bago pa man,
sa Manila ang una niyang trabaho ay sa Institute of Women’s
Studies. Samantala, ang kanyang asawang si Jorge ay nagbukas
ng “Elan Glamour Photography” at nagsagawa ng workshops sa
Digital Photography. Nagkaroon din siya ng mga Storybook
Exhibits at isa sa kanyang major exhibitions sa Cordillera
Studies sa U.P. Baguio ay naidisplay rin sa NHK Osaka noong
2005. Ang kanyang “still photos” ang nagbibigay-kahulugan sa
mga tula ng pag-ibig ni Pia na nailimbag noong 1996 na may
titulong “NAKADUYAN SA BUWAN.”

       “Noong taong iyon, inspirado ako at parang nalampasan
ko na ang mapusok kong kabataan. Noong 20 pa lang ako lahat
halos ng tula ko e bilang protesta o bilang propaganda sa mga
isyu ng kababaihan. Pagtuntong ko ng 30 napansin kong namulat
na ako sa papel ko bilang babae, asawa at ina. At ngayong malapit
na akong mag-40, siguro e ito na nga ang “post-feminism”
stage na tinatawag. Hindi na tayo magpapa-api at mayroon
na ring “balance” sa relasyon bilang mag-asawa.” Matapos ang
isang araw na pagtuturo, dinadatnan ni Pia sa bahay ang masarap
na niluto nina Jorge at Migs na ngayon ay nahihilig sa “baking.”
“Akala ko ay magiging writer din ang anak ko dahil maliit pa lang
siya ay nakikinig siya sa mga pagpapalit-kuro ng mga writers
na nagpupunta sa bahay gaya nina Cirilo F. Bautista, Isagani Cruz,
Neil Garcia, Wendel Capili at siyempre pa si Elynia. May sarili
siyang desisyon na iginagalang ko naman. Gayunpaman, ang
mahalaga ay naroon pa rin ang interes niya sa pagbabasa ng
libro.”

        Enero 2006, kasukdulan ng lamig sa Osaka, dumalaw si
Dr. Elynia S. Mabanglo mula sa University of Hawaii at Manoa
kung saan siya ay propesor at Coordinator ng Filipino and
Philippine Literature program. Pagkatapos ng kanyang Lecture
sa mga estudyante at guro sa Osaka Gaidai, inabutan niya ako
ng isang “MESA PARA SA ISA” kalipunan ng kanyang mga tula.
Sa isang pahina, nabasa ko ang “Tunay na Guro,” tulang handog
niya kay Pia Arboleda:
     
PAYAK NA PAYAK ANG LARAWANG IGINUHIT MO SA ISIP KO:
PAGHAHANGAD NA MATUTO
NG AKING MGA NALALAMAN…
At sa pagtatapos kanyang sinabing:
IKAW PALA ANG TUNAY NA GURO,
HINAHAMAK AKO NG PAGTATANTO.

        Sa NAKADUYAN SA BUWAN, nakasulat naman sa unang pahina
ang pambungad na “Ibigay na ang lahat o huwag na lang,” isang linya
mula sa mga LIHAM NI PINAY ni Elynia Mabanglo, bilang pag-aalay
ni Pia sa kanyang mentor at kaibigan.

       Dalawang babaeng makata, patuloy na nagbibigay inspirasyon
sa isa’t isa, parehong lumilingon sa nakaraang pagpapakasakit
at humaharap sa mga oportunidad na naghihintay sa kanila at sa
susunod pang henerasyon ng kababaihan. Ito na nga ba ang
diyaspora ng kababaihan? 

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I was born in Manila but we moved to Baguio City in 1996.
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION/PROFESSION?
I taught for 7 years in U.P. Baguio before coming to Osaka as a
Visiting Professor at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies -
Department of Philippine Studies. I also taught at De La Salle
University and St. Scholastica’s College. I did NGO work for
Remedios AIDS Foundation, CARE Philippines and the Environment
Legal Defense Foundation.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN JAPAN?  Two years.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?
Hazelnut Coffee and Baguio-Benguet Blend sold exclusively at my
 favorite coffee store at Baguio Market.
WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED IN JAPAN?
Getting lost and using Japanese-style toilets...
Once, I slipped my fare card into the slot but went through
 aisle. The barriers did not open so I rammed through it.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT JAPAN?
Noren (Japanese-style curtains), Ceramics especially the beautiful
tea cups and “sake” dispensers, the “traditional art of doll-making”
in the Matsuyamachi area, “flea markets” and shodou (calligraphy).
I also love Japanese rice and sushi.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?    Nothing.
IF YOU COULD TEACH THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE JAPANESE, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
It is their innate harmony with nature and a genuine appreciation of
the arts, their sense of order, and the preservation of their
traditional values. You can observe this even in the way they
prepare and present food, the way they fix their homes.
AND PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE IN JAPAN?
Make as many friends as possible. Seek out bargains in the flea
market and wholesale grocery stores (because everything here
is soooo expensive). Take up a hobby like shodou or ikebana if
you love flowers. Go to a gym to keep fit. But most importantly,
buy your own karaoke microphone. When you feel homesick,
belt your heart out. That is the only way to keep your sanity.





A DIPLOMAT LARGER THAN LIFE ITSELF
Consul Senen Tiemsin Mangalile,
Philcongen, Osaka-Kobe

The MANEKI NEKO, a traditional cat mascot that beckons good luck, used to adorn many commercial establishments in Osaka. However, it seems the cat has lost its luck that now, a new lucky charm named BILLIKEN, with its new statue at the Tsutentaku Tower in the Naniwa area, has been drawing Osakans by the hundreds who believe their wishes will be granted when the soles of his feet are rubbed. According to a Yomiuri Shimbun article, it was drawn by an American artist in 1908 after she saw the figure in her dream and she named it after the nickname of the late U.S. President William Taft. Now, BILLIKEN is the "God of Things As They Ought To Be."

The past year was a wacky one --- calamities, economic recessions, and even personal relationship dramas. So for 2006 I might also pay a visit to the Billiken statue. Who knows what luck it could bring into my life? And if there is someone who can brighten up the first issue of JP, I am deeply honored to present to you CONSUL SENEN, Consul and Administrative Officer of the Philippine Consulate General, Osaka-Kobe, someone really larger than life itself (literally and laterally speaking). Although not as cute as the maneki neko and not as adorable as the billiken, Consul Senen has a wholesome personality whose great combination of indomi-table and lovable traits could overshadow the mannekin and the billiken altogether in no time.

Youthful looks and cool disposition mask and shroud the serious responsibilities attached to his position in the diplomatic corps. In a keynote speech he gave to the 2005 ASEAN Overseas Management seminar focusing on the impact of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, he pointed out that the key word in the agreement is 'partnership' and that it is important for both countries to continue finding avenues for economic cooperation as a productive basis for a livelier social and cultural exchange. The agreement is expected to be signed and implemented this year which is designated as the Japan-Philippines Friendship Year and the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

This diplomat is the legacy of theBaliwag Transit and the late Bert Tawa Marcelo. He is the youngest son of Arsenio and Felisa Mangalile.

Consul Senen is a largely visible image in any Filipino community event and is often regarded as an extended family member by some Japanese because of his genuine ability to talk to people from all walks of life. Disputes are settled amicably and negotiations are made easy by his mere presence. To this, he gives credit to his late father who allowed the bubbly Senen ride with him on the bicycle around the town as he went about administering injections at schools as the town’s Health Officer. Mr. Mangalile was like a politician stopping at some points to talk to Pancho, the local baker, or to the Town’s lawyer Bibong or to Aling Luring, the town’s best serkele cook. His fancy for traveling started at age 2 when he vacationed with an uncle in Laguna, also an early training in trusting people.

School life was fun for this Baliwag child prodigy. Their house was in front of the Baliwag Elementary School and he was never late and had more time for his naughty streaks like tying the shoelaces of his classmates and spreading thumbtacks on the floor. But he was just playful and did not go beyond the extremes for fear of the spanking he would get from his mother. Nanay cooked very special dishes for them and the Mangalile kitchen smelled sweetly of minatamis na santol, kamias and balat ng pakwan. Food keeps the family intact and his mother made sure that there was food on the table for Edith, Hermie, Amado, Senen and their families even if their visits are unannounced.
      
Senen graduated from the Immaculate Conception Seminary with an AB in Philosophy and taught immediately at the same school’s high school department. Bishop Almario saw the potential in the young teacher and assigned him in the Administration while teaching courses on Advanced Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion, Asian Philosophy and Theory of Knowledge. After 2 years, when it was about time for him to go back to the seminary, he interviewed an applicant for the position of Math teacher – Maria Fe Barcelon from Malolos . The whirlwind romance for Senen and Yen would produce two lovable outputs --- PAU (12) and BETSY (8). Their reasons for marrying young at 21 is to  enjoy at the prime of their life after their children graduate. And in keeping with traditions, their daughters call them “Tatay” and “Nanay” because he believes that a true Filipino preserves the Tagalog forms of endearment.

The boy from Baliuag made names for himself after his M.A. with a major in Philosophy at the Ateneo de Manila University. He topped the 1993 Law Aptitude Examination at the University of the Philippines College of Law and ranked first in the nationwide Civil Service Commission’s Career Professional Service Examinations. He served as Public Relations officer of Philippine National Bank and was Features Editor of PUBLICS, PNB’s corporate magazine. After placing ninth in the 1996 Foreign Service Officers Examination, he joined the DFA in 1997 at the Office of Asean affairs. In 1998, he was designated as director for ceremonials at the Office of Protocol. From 2000 to 2001, he was deputy chief of Presidential protocol in Malacanang. As Consul and Administrative Officer of the Philcongen, he hopes to bring the consulate closer to the Filipinos through a regular monthly program in FM Cocolo’s Tinig Pinoy hosted by Cindy and Mina. He explains with such clarity and ease the consular matters and services Filipinos can avail of and enumerates the requirements even without a script. In his New Year message to the listeners of the program, he delivered in flawless Filipino "Bawat Bagong Taon na ating pinasisiyayaan ay isang ginintuang pagkakataon upang ating lingunin ang naka-raan at ngitian ang parating na hinaharap at namnamin ang magagandang ala-ala na ating naipon… "
       
For Consul Senen, the man that he is now is the outcome of the child in his past who learned the values of human relationships and the subtlety and delicacy in the conduct of all our life’s affairs.

And perhaps even in my dreams, a few or a hundred years from now, another cute god of wisdom and good fortune would be erected alongside Billiken.
A Senenken, perhaps? And why not? 

An Interview:

WHERE ARE YOU FROM? I was raised in Baliuag, Bulacan but am now residing in Malolos, Bulacan.
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION?
Foreign Service Officer Class II of the Department of Foreign Affairs and presently assigned as Consul at the Philippine Consulate in Osaka.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN JAPAN? Three years and five months.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES? Rows and rows of English bestsellers at Powerbooks; Starbucks branches that are open until the crack of dawn; KFC’s gravy; dalagang bukid, papaitan and burong talangka and the bootlegged CDs and DVDs.
WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING THAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED IN JAPAN?
In my first winter in Japan, I went out of the house clad in full black ensemble complete with black overcoat and dark shades. The driver of the cab I hailed apologized profusely for taking a route through heavy traffic and criticized himself as an incompetent driver. He also offered me a 50% discount off the cab fared. Then my phone rang and I conversed with the caller in Tagalog. Hearing that, he asked me if I am a foreigner, to which I replied in the affirmative. With a sigh of relief he told me that he thought all along I was a yakuza hitman, which is why he was giving me a 50% discount. I ended up paying the full taxi fare.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT OSAKA? Osaka deserves its reputation as the kitchen of Japan with its wide variety of culinary offerings ranging from fine dining restaurants to hole-in-the wall bistros. The Filipino community here is also very warm and caring, which makes it easy not to be homesick at all.
IF YOU CAN  CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Prices.
IF YOU COULD TEACH THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE JAPANESE, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
Their sense of self as reflected in their elaborate rules on manners and etiquette and their inherent politeness; discipline as reflected in their punctuality, efficiency and sense of duty; and their work ethic as reflected in their concept of seiri, seiton and seiso.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE IN JAPAN.
Work as if the entire world depends on you, then party as if there’s no tomorrow. Live within your means, always planning for contingencies. Take time to smell the roses—munching “takoyaki” along the way. Climb Fuji-san, or at least rest at its foot while enjoying the view. Soak in an “onsen” where, naked as on the day you were born, you are reminded that you will leave this world with nothing but your best memories. Laugh, because only in laughter can we be equal with the gods.

------------------------------------------------------------------
ISSUE:  November-December 2005
ON THE ROAD TO: The Three Kings of Kansai


Alfred Valencia (Metrobank, Osaka)
Tony Herrera (Philippine Airlines, West Japan)
Natalio “Boy” G. Naguit (Philippine National Bank, Nagoya)

They say that the longest Christmas season is celebrated in the Philippines.
As early as October, Christmas carols are played on radio programs heralding
the start of the merriest time of the year while images of “Simbang Gabi”,
“Parol”, “Belen” and the happy family reunions at the “Noche Buena” table
are laden with “Queso de Bola”, Hamon, Arroz Valenciana and other delicacies.
But for every Filipino family, the arrival of a “Balikbayan” member of the family
is an assurance that Christmas is really going to be MERRY -- with a lot of
imported goodies, boxes of apples, pears and oranges, loads of stuff toys
as “pasalubongs“ from Ate or Kuya or from Mommy and Daddy. If they could
only see the sweat and tears that go into every hard earned yen or dollar...

Three people in Kansai whom I call Kings will give us glimpses of their
encounters with our working kababayans. They have agreed to appear in
our column together. Alfred Valencia, Manager of Metrobank,walks into his
office every morning ready to start the day with an ever-smiling staff of 6
ladies and 3 guys. Alfred has been with Metrobank for 20 years.
Mr. Antonio Herrera starts his day with an oatmeal for breakfast and then
goes up to the third floor office of Philippine Airlines Osaka in Higobashi as
he opens his e-mails and checks with Kanuka-san about PAL’s flight that day
from KIX. A nephew of the legendary Bimbo Danao who married actress
Keiko Awaji, he has been promoting the country’s flag-carrier for 30 years
now. Mr. Natalio “Boy” Naguit has been in the banking business for
31 years - half of which was with Bank of America. He is also fond of
oatmeals as a starter to maintain his energy. His staff of 3 Japanese
and 7 Filipinos are always ready for the big bulk of depositors in their
area.
      
These three people are icons in their own right representing the Philippines’
top business entities. Let us see what they have in common? Though they
may be rivals in business, they are the best of friends. And these three
kings get busiest during the Christmas season. It's the season when Filipinos
remit more yen than you could imagine and fly back home in droves.      

PNB Tokyo and Nagoya Sub-Branch soft launched the Global Filipino
ATM card to target the be-neficiaries of Global Filipinos last November 8.
This ATM card has the following features: Accessible - beneficiaries may
receive remittances ANYTIME through ATMs nationwide in the
Philippines; Worry-Free - No account opening, NO maintaining balance
and NO long waiting; Easy-To-Use - may be funded thru remittance
at any PNB overseas office and it is FREE - beneficiaries may go to any
PNB domestic branch to acquire one for free.

Metrobank on the other hand holds a special raffle draw for their
depositors in the Honmachi branch. Every year Winners can win
exciting prizes.

Mr. Herrera of PAL laments the fact that many of our kababayans prefer
the services of other airlines. Tony believes that if we patronize our
country’s carrier, then we are helping our economy. For those going
home for Christmas, enjoy PAL’s inflight music which is mostly Christmas
carols. Upon arrival at the PAL terminal, the festive mood begins with a
serenade from a rondalla group. Domestic transfers are also easier if
traveling by PAL.

Unknown to many, even to their superiors perhaps, they have become
expert advisers to our troubled kababayans on all sorts of problems one
can imagine. Alfred usually observes how customers find it hard to let go
of the cash from their wallets. Of course, he even advises that if they plan
to remit 100,000 yen, just send 80% and deposit 20%. That way, we are
able to teach them how to save. Whenever Alfred attends a community
event, expect him to be talking ang giving advices to OFW’s who fondly
call him Kuya Fred. He also joined a fashion show recently where some
of his depositors cheered and called him “PIOLO, PIOLO”. Mr. Naguit also
advises the same thing to their depositors in Nagoya. Almost always,
their marketing visits at churches are also turning into counseling
sessions. As a result, Boy gives his personal contact number to them
and to other groups like shipbuilding company employees who attend
his orientation on PNB's remittance system and deposit products in
case they need some advice whether it be regarding business or
personal matters. Tony, however, has a different clientele.
Desperate housewives expose their sweet and sour experiences
and ask his opinions about anything. On these occasions, he shares
a good laugh with them when they talk about the kinds of “pasalubongs”
we give to our kin back home. “We are so fond of bringing home
anything as “omiyage” to our folks back home from fruits, noodles to
even bottled or canned drinks. We only waste money on excess
baggages or end up leaving the items behind."
        
We hope that Alfred, Tony and Boy - the Three Kings of Kansai will continue
to shower us with their great wealth of wisdom. Yes, all that wealth for FREE!!!
You see them around a community event? Do say hi or hello. These people
maybe on top but they have the biggest hearts.

LONG LIVE THE KINGS!
Or, let's shout, BANZAI!

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Alfred: Calaca, Batangas
Tony: Manila and Makati
Boy: Bongabon, Oriental Mindoro
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION/PROFESSION?
A: Bank Manager, Metrobank Osaka
T:  Airline Executive
B: Bank Manager, PNB Nagoya, sub-branch
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN JAPAN?
A: More than 3 years
T:  Almost 5 years
B:  About 3 1/2  years
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?
A: Of course, my wife and 3 children Paulo, Jenny and Twinkle.
T: The fun, food, laughter, nightlife and my twin nieces.
B: My whole family
WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING THAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED IN JAPAN?
A: On my 2nd day after arriving from the Philippines, I lost my way home. The buildings looked all the same to me. Ikot-lang ako ng ikot for one hour. Frantic, cold and hungry, bigla ko na lang nakita iyong tapunan ng mga lumang appliances na natandaan kong marker. Kasi nalaman kong mahilig magtapon ang mga Hapon ng mga gamit gaya ng TV, sofa, tables etc. Finally, I called my officemate and got help.
T: When I checked-in at a hotel in Tokyo’s Akasaka area, I was surprised to find the rooms too small and the bathroom so cramped I could hardly move considering the fact that I am just of average-built.
B: The weirdest thing is that I have not experienced any weird one yet.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT OSAKA/NAGOYA?
A: Its warm-hearted people and the hospitality of the Filipino communities here.
T: The peace and order situation that makes one feel safe to walk even in the middle of the night.
B: The discipline and cleanliness all around us.
IF YOU CAN CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
A:  Instead of expecting us to be proficient in Nihonggo I hope they will focus their attention on improving communication skills in English so that more tourists will visit Japan.
T: I hope the Japanese can be more flexible in dealing with problems and
issues they face in daily life. Lagi na lang nilang pinahihirapan ang mga sarili nila.
B: I hope they can be more flexible.
IF YOU CAN TEACH THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE JAPANESE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
A, T and B: DISIPLINA at KATAPATAN SA TUNGKULIN  lalo na kung tayo ay nasa gobyerno.
AND LASTLY, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE IN JAPAN.
A: I am a simple man with simple likes and simple means and I try my best to be a good Christian and a devoted family man. Whenever I think about my family in the Philippines, I am able to bear the loneliness of life in a foreign land.
T: Simple din ang recipe ko to have a successful life in this country: Never go against their way of life. Do as the Romans do. The more you complain the more unhappy you become.
B: Mas simple ang recipe ko kaya naman simple lang ang kaligayahan ko. The moment I get home from work, I relax completely leaving behind my worries. The next day I report for work, I'm totally refreshed and able to do my work better.

---------------------------------------------------------
ISSUE: September-October 2005
ON THE ROAD TO: Staying Pretty at Fifty with
SUSAN SANTIAGO FUCHIZAKI

Whenever Susan enters a hall or a room, expect everyone's eyes focus on this lovely creature who is an Ate Vi look-alike. Her outlandish outfit, with slits here and there, bears the brand-name of a famous actress-designer in Japan. Her favorite green color accentuates her white and silky complexion. It's like having the Star-for-All-Seasons herself! She speaks gently, with a gesture for every word. Any party or event lightens up or even gets hilarious when Susan demonstrates her dancing skills that earned her the nickname “Ang Babaeng Sawa”. But one title she won in one Community contest really fits this friendly, funny and flawless fifty-one year old beauty----- MS. VALENTINE!

Susan turned 51 last June but people think she looks a lot younger than that. Her secrets--- less stress, regular visits to her esthe shop and a warm and loving husband. Mr. Yoshihiro Fuchizaki, a computer company programmer met Susan while she was employed as a receptionist at the Ramada Midtown Hotel. He courted Susan just like any love-smitten guy ---- gave her 3 red roses and 3 pcs. of chocolates --- dahil daw I love You ang ibig sabihin noon. They tied the knots on December 1, 1985 in Japan . She enrolled in Nihongo classes at the YMCA until their daughter MIKA KATHERINE was born—equally lovely as her mother. Kaya lang, noong nasa elementarya pa si Mika-chan, ayaw pasakayin sa elevator ng mansion nila ng ibang Japanese dahil daw gaijin. Tapos noon namang nasa JHS ang bata, ayaw raw siyang papuntahin sa “Sankanbi” o class observation day dahil nga sa mga shocking colors na outfit ng ina. But Susan took things calmly until one day her daughter asked why she didn’t show up in school. "Mika-chan, I was there," wika ng ina. Hindi pala nakilala ng anak dahil nagsuot ng kulay Grey na business suit si Ms. Valentine!

Sa dami ng exciting episodes sa buhay ng pamilya Fuchizaki, it is probably Yoshihiro-san’s calm countenance and gentle disposition and Susan’s policy of “GIVE AND TAKE” that keeps the couple’s love afloat. Yoshihiro speaks fondly of his wife as  “muzukashii” and “wagamama” at times but commends her as being KAWAII and II-OKUSAN. He realized how much his family meant to him when he was assigned in Tokyo for 4 years. Susan was also very lonely and only looked forward to the daily telephone calls of Yoshihiro’s coming home on some weekends or special occasions.

Three years ago, her husband was transferred back to the Osaka office and once again the family is intact . But what keeps Mr. Fuchizaki still head-over-heels in love with her? Susan has a special way. Last year, on a trip back from the Philippines, she boarded a PAL plane on Sept. 5, with a special handcarried baggage—a cake she ordered from Red Ribbons bakeshop , may computerized picture pa ng asawa nya na nakadekorasyon sa ibabaw --- to celebrate Papa’s 53rd birthday. When the plane was about to land in Osaka, a series of earthquakes jolted Kansai and to make matters worse may bagyo pa sa Okinawa. Sa dami ng turbulences ( on-air and in land) Halos gumuho rin ang birthday cake. Pati trains going to the airport were delayed. Papa as usual was in one of those trains to meet “Ms. Valentine”. Ala-Romeo and Juliet Tragic-comic ang nangyari. Pagdating nila sa bahay, about to open the star-crossed cake, lumindol uli at completely natunaw rin ang picture ni Papa. Napaiyak si Susan and when Yoshihiro saw the tears , he just wiped it away with his kisses. Hayyy.. parang Mills and Boon romances!!! But they are wiser this year. Mika-chan who is now a university freshman in Kyoto taking up foreign languages, has given them a present of a trip to Ishikawa prefecture. But alas… another strong typhoon number 14 lashed  Kansai but they still pushed through with the trip. Hangin at ulan ang naging kasama nila sa ryokan to mark his birthday.

Babaeng Sawa or Ms. Sexytary of the PCCC or Ms. Valentine, SUSAN is really one person who knows exactly how to enjoy her golden years …. Staying pretty even after 50!!!

WHERE ARE YOU FROM? My mother is from Angeles, Pampanga and my father is from Camarines Sur. I was born in Bambang, Manila but grew up in Makati.
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION/ PROFESSION? I graduated from the Philippine Women’s University, A.B. Secretarial course. Then, I worked in a Greek Cruise ship. After a while, I worked as a receptionist at the Midtown Ramada Hotel. Now, I’m a part-time "Filipino to Japanese" interpre-ter.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN JAPAN? 20 years na!
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES? Actually, only my parents and family. I do not have so many friends over there now. In Osaka, I have so many friends that’s why
I don’t feel so homesick as in the beginning. But
I do miss the shopping sprees back home.
WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING THAT YOU EXPERIENCED IN JAPAN?
When I arrived in Osaka, I felt that communication with the Japanese was so weird. Here I was, trying to express myself complete with facial expression and hand gestures, but they would always respond in a monotone or there would hardly be any expression on their faces. I thought the Japanese were not friendly but in my long years of stay here, I realized they can also be very demonstrative and expressive if they want to.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT OSAKA?
Food is tastier and cheaper than anywhere else across Japan. Recently, there are many exciting gourmet restaurants to choose from: Italian, Thai, Chinese, Australian, but most of all ethnic Korean yakiniku shops are always popular with the Filipinos. There are also many Filipino restaurants offering lunch buffet at very reasonable prices. Osakans are like Pinoys - we enjoy a lot of eating in the company of family or friends. Moreover, since I’m very fond of shopping --- there are exclusive shops around Namba or Shinsaibashi selling brand-name items at very affordable prices. That area is the most popular destination for young people and most foreigners visiting Osaka never miss to buy the latest in electrical gadgets in Namba or Hello Kitty or Mickey Mouse souvenirs or fashion accessories from Shinsaibashi.
IF YOU CAN CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT JAPAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Maybe I want Japan as it is because there are customs and traditions here that are similar to ours like “Utang na loob”. Once they are given a favor, they would always remember that kindness although those are reciprocated with a gift.
IF YOU CAN TEACH THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE JAPANESE TO THE FILIPINOS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Punctuality is top in my list. And the quality of their finished products especially clothes, shoes and jewelry are famous worldwide.
AND LASTLY PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE IN JAPAN.
Most of all, I try my best to enjoy my life although sometimes things don’t actually happen as we expect. My husband’s love keeps me going through these years that’s why I always keep myself beautiful and sweet for him. And I never forget to say “thank you” to him for anything he gives or does for me. Kung minsan nga, kahit galit ako sa kanya, I  still make it a point to serve him a good dinner whenever he comes home from work.